LIVE BLOG: Day 6 of Israel’s Gaza offensive

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Cease-fire talks progressing in Cairo, but no Israel-Hamas truce soon, Nabil Shaath tells Ma’an; Rocket barrage quietens down, as IDF continues Gaza strikes overnight; Palestinians report 9 killed overnight in Gaza; 12 killed Sunday in single deadliest incident since operation began.

An Israeli missile flattened a two-story house in a residential neighborhood of Gaza City on Sunday, killing four young children and eight other civilians, most from the same family, Palestinian sources said, in what was the single deadliest incident in the five-day-old Operation Pillar of Defense. The bloodshed is considered likely to raise international pressure for a cease-fire, with Egypt taking the lead in mediating between Israel and Hamas.  

The Israel Defense Forces said nine Palestinians were killed accidentally in the missile strike, in which a top operative in Hamas’ rocket program was hit. It is not clear if he was killed. The army, which had originally said the Hamas rocket chief was hit in the air strike, is investigating.

Palestinians fired at least 75 rockets at Israel Sunday, a steep drop from a weekend in which about 230 rockets were fired daily. More than 10 Israelis were wounded by shrapnel, two moderately, according to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. In the southern city of Ashkelon, rocket fire damaged a residential building. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted about 40 rockets, including two aimed at the Tel Aviv area.

Despite some reports of diplomatic progress, the IDF continues to prepare for a possible ground incursion. PLO official Nabil Shaath says that a truce in the coming days is unlikely.

LIVE BLOG

6:30 A.M. Red alert in Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council (Haaretz)

5:15 A.M. Palestinians report death toll has risen to five in earlier Rafah strike. Meanwhile, Palestinian news agency Ma’an has reported that three others were killed in an IDF strike in the Zeitoun neighborhood, north Gaza overnight. Ma’an reports that a Gaza police station was targeted in the strikes. According to Ma’an, a total of nine Palestinians have been killed in the Strip since midnight. (Haaretz)

03:30 A.M. PLO official Nabil Shaath tells Palestinian news agency Ma’an negotiations in Cairo have made progress, but that an Israel-Hamas cease-fire “is not likely to take effect in the coming days because Israel is trying to impose its own stipulations ignoring the demands of Hamas and other Palestinian factions.” According to Ma’an, Shaath said that Israel initially requested that Hamas hand over all weapons – a request that Hamas refused. Shaath said Hamas said it would agree to stop targeting civilians if there was a truce. He also said that Turkey and Qatar are very active in Egypt-brokered negotiations. (Haaretz)

03:12 A.M. Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Fatah leader in prison in Israel, has called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip to show “steadfastness and resistance.” Bargouti also urged Palestinians to protest against Israeli strikes on Gaza, and denounced “brutal Israeli aggression” in a statement, according to Ma’an’s report. Barghouti also reportedly said that Arab countries, particularly Egypt and Jordan, should rethink their relationships with Israel. (Haaretz)

1:00 A.M. Palestinian media report three killed in IAF air strike in Rafah’s Miraj neighborhood. The three fatalities include 60-year-old Sabha Muhawish al-Hashash, 20-year-old Mahmoud Sami Shaath and a third unidentified person. (Haaretz)

12:03 A.M. Al-Arabiya reports that Morocco has announced that it will set up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip. (Haaretz)

11:27 P.M. Just 75 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Sunday, compared to an average of 230 rockets per day over the weekend – a two-thirds drop in rocket fire. The IDF states that since the beginning of the escalation of the conflict, over 980 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel and that approximately 100 rockets have landed in Gaza. According to the IDF, a rocket siren sounds, on average, every seven minutes somewhere in Israel.

11:24 P.M. Ramzi Hamad, one of the heads of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, says that Hamas and Israel have agreed on 90% of the terms of a cease-fire agreement, according to Al Jazeera. One of the heads of Fatah, Nabil Shaath, who is currently in Cairo, said talks on a cease-fire have entered an advanced stage.

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