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Militants in the Gaza Strip fired 110 rockets at southern Israel on Monday, causing no casualties, police said. Israel said it had conducted 80 air strikes on the enclave. The figures meant a relative easing in ferocity - over 1,000 rockets have been fired in the six days, and 1,350 air strikes carried out.
For the second straight day, Israeli missiles blasted a tower block in the city of Gaza housing international media. Two people were killed there, one of them an Islamic Jihad militant.
Khaled Meshaal, exile leader of Hamas, said a truce was possible but the Islamist group, in charge of the Gaza Strip since 2007, would not accept Israeli demands and wanted Israel to halt its strikes first and lift its blockade of the enclave.
“Whoever started the war must end it,” he told a news conference in Cairo, adding that Netanyahu, who faces an election in January, had asked for a truce, an assertion a senior Israeli official described as untrue.
Meshaal said Netanyahu feared the domestic consequences of a “land war” of the kind Israel launched four years ago: “He can do it, but he knows that it will not be a picnic and that it could be his political death and cost him the elections.”
For Israel, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon has said that “if there is quiet in the south and no rockets and missiles are fired at Israel’s citizens, nor terrorist attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack”.
Yaalon also said Israel wanted an end to guerrilla activity by militants from Gaza in the neighbouring Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
Although 84 percent of Israelis support the current Gaza assault, according to a poll by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, only 30 percent want an invasion.