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Middle East

Israel continues shelling on Gaza

Israeli forces renew their bombardment on Gaza as Palestinian death toll increases.
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2012 11:28

At least twenty six more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been killed in Israeli latest raids, raising the toll to 138, while fighters from Gaza fired rockets that killed two Israelis, bringing the death toll in Israel to five since Wednesday.

Israeli airstrikes continued hitting targets in Gaza City early into Wednesday.

Palestinian emergency services said that two brothers in the southern town of Rafah were killed in a strike that hit their motorcycle on Tuesday night. Four others were killed in raids around the central town of Deir al-Balah, they added.

Israel also confirmed a strike on a building housing the offices of media organisations, the third such strike in three days. It said that it carried out a "surgical" strike on "a Hamas intelligence operations centre" in these building.

Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza was also damaged as a missile hit a building nearby, no casualties were reported.

"I was in the office with a fixer and suddenly we heard an explosion," said Mahmud Hams, an AFP photographer, adding that the explosion shook the building. "About five minutes passed and then we heard two more loud explosions that  also shook the building," he said.

"I grabbed my cameras and left the office with the fixer and there was smoke in the hallways. We ran out of the building," he said, indicating that smoke and a fire appeared to be coming from an office on one of the upper floors.

A soldier was killed by a mortar in the Eshkol border region, according to the Israeli military. Later, a civilian was killed when a rocket landed in the same region.

"Fourteen rockets exploded in residential areas in south of Israel, a record number for this operation," Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman, reporting from Jerusalem, said.

At least 11 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were injured on Tuesday.

A rocket also landed near Jerusalem, without causing any injuries. It crashed into an olive grove near Jabba village, in an attack claimed by the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the second such attempt to hit Jerusalem in five days.

The Israeli military has struck at least 1,450 targets in Gaza since attacks began last Wednesday.

Since then, at least 760 rockets have hit Israel while almost 400 others have been intercepted by Israel's anti-missile system, the Iron Dome, according to the Israeli army.

'Ethnic cleansing'

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in Gaza, saying the attacks could not be considered self-defence.

Follow the latest developments in the ongoing conflict 

"Israel is committing ethnic cleansing by ignoring peace in this region and violating international law," Erdogan said. "It is occupying the Palestinian territory step by step."

The premier said Western countries were guilty of aiding what he called a "terrorist state" by condoning its violence in the Middle East.

"Sooner or later, Israel will answer for the innocent blood it has shed so far," he said.

On Tuesday, Israel dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip, urging residents to leave their homes immediately if they want to stay safe.

The flyers urged residents in northern Gaza to use specific routes when leaving their homes.

"For your own safety, you are ordered to evacuate your houses right away and to move towards Gaza City through Cairo Road, Arab League Road, al-Aqsa Road, al-Qadisiya Road, Em el-Leymoun, Salaheddine, al-Mansoura, Khalas, Baghdad," read the flyer in part.

Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba, reporting from Gaza said: "Throughout the night, various parts of the city was hit, all of these actions came as residents were warned by the Israelis to escape from their homes".

"It is not clear why these leaflets were dropped at the same time there were talks for a ceasefire," said our reporter.

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