Israeli strikes hit banks, media outlets | News | DW | 21.11.2012
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Israeli strikes hit banks, media outlets

Israeli strikes have hit a bank and the Gaza office of the AFP news agency. The attacks come as the UN secretary-general called for a ceasefire and foreign leaders met with both sides to broker the truce.

Mahmud Hams, a photographer for Agence France-Press, was in the building that housed the news service's Gaza City office when it was struck. He told the agency that three rockets appeared to have hit the building, but the attack injured no AFP staff. Hams also said that from outside the bulding he saw smoke and fire on one of the upper floors.

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

"We attacked the seventh story of the building," an army spokesman told AFP. "From what we understand, Hamas had a military intelligence operations room there." He described the strike as "surgical" and gave no further details.

Earlier Tuesday, a car marked with pink TV signs was hit by an Israeli airstrike, killing two cameramen for al-Aqsa television. It was all part of dozens of attacks, one of which destroyed the Gaza branch of the National Islamic Bank.

'A durable outcome'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to negotiate a deal to keep Israel from sending troops into Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing re-election and favored to win, told Clinton he wanted a long-term solution. If that failed, Netanyahu made clear, he stood ready to step up his military campaign.

"It is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm be restored," Clinton said. "The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike."

Egyptian authorities have tried to broker a truce from Cairo. Hamas, which controls Gaza, had expressed hopes for a ceasefire Tuesday.

In Cairo, Hamas leaders accused Israel of not responding to proposals. An initial halt to attacks may, however, not see fighting immediately end.

A week into the offensive Israel launched when it assassinated a Hamas security chief, strikes have killed more than 130 Palestinians. Five Israelis have been killed, two of them on Tuesday.

In late 2008 and early 2009, Israel waged a much bloodier air and ground assault against the territory. Fighting killed 13 Israelis and nearly 1,400 Palestinians.

mkg/ccp (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, IPS)

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