Middle East

Gaza crisis: Fresh attacks follow US ceasefire offer

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Media caption"Israel says it's investigating what happened here. In Khan Younis, there's anger", reports Quentin Sommerville

Israel has carried out more air strikes on Gaza and militants have continued to fire rockets into Israel, after the US said it was ready to broker a truce.

Five Palestinians died in an attack on a house in Rafah, bringing the overall death toll to 98, Palestinians say.

Rockets were fired at Israel from both Gaza and Lebanon. A petrol station was hit in the Israeli town of Ashdod.

US President Barack Obama offered to help with a truce in a phone call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian health ministry now says 98 people have died since Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge early on Tuesday. Some 670 people - mainly civilians - have been injured.

Israel says "dozens of terrorists" are among the dead.

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Media captionJerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat: "Hamas militants want to destroy Israel"

Israel says militants have fired close to 500 rockets from Gaza since Tuesday. It says many of the rockets have been intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system - and that it has attacked about 780 targets over the same period.

There have been no reports of fatalities in Israel.

Three people were injured, one seriously, when a rocket hit the petrol station in Ashdod on Friday morning, Israeli officials say.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israel has continued air strikes - including here in Rafah
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A rocket from Gaza hit a petrol station in Ashdod on Friday, seriously injuring one person
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A Palestinian woman reacts after her son's boat is burned in an Israeli naval strike in Gaza City
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israel says close to 500 rockets have been fired into Israel since Tuesday

Three rockets were also shot down by Iron Dome over Tel Aviv, the Israeli military said.

The Lebanese military also confirmed that militants in the south of the country fired three rockets into northern Israel in the early hours of Friday and that Israel had shelled the area in response. No injuries were reported.

In Gaza, an Israeli air strike on a house in Rafah killed five people - three men and two women - the health ministry said.

It said a second strike killed a girl in Rafah, while one militant was killed when his motorcycle was hit north of Gaza City.

'Restore calm'

In his telephone call with Mr Netanyahu, Barack Obama said: "The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," according to a White House statement.

The president also strongly condemned rocket fire by Hamas, "expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasised the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm".

Some 20,000 Israeli army reservists have been mobilised amid speculation of a ground offensive into Gaza.

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem says a ground invasion would be a big political gamble as the military would have to deliver a clear victory before leaving, and that would be extremely difficult.

Israel says its targets in Gaza have been militant fighters and facilities, but the Palestinian health ministry says many of those who have died were women and children.

On Friday, a statement from Egypt's foreign ministry condemned Israel's "excessive and unnecessary use of military force leading to the death of innocent civilians".

Egypt helped broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after a conflict in 2012.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned Israel's offensive.

He said: "You have to end this oppression. As long as it does not end, a normalising of ties between Turkey and Israel is not possible."

Israel's Iron Dome missile shield

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
  1. Enemy fires missile or artillery shell
  2. Projectile tracked by radar. Data relayed to battle management and control unit
  3. Data analysed and target co-ordinates sent to the missile firing unit
  4. Missile is fired at enemy projectile

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