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Gaza Death Toll Tops 100 As Fighting Rages

Israeli Army Continues Troop Deployment On Gaza Strip Border i
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November 19, 2012
Tanks, artillery, and infantry have massed in field encampments along Gaza's border as Israel continues to deploy ground forces amid a sixth day of hostilities with Islamist militants on November 19. Israel has authorized the call-up of 75,000 reservists, although there was no immediate sign of when or whether they might be needed in a ground invasion. (Reuters)
WATCH: Tanks, artillery, and infantry were massed in field encampments along Gaza's border as Israel continues to deploy ground forces on the sixth day of hostilities.
By RFE/RL
Palestinian officials said the death toll from ongoing Israeli air strikes had risen above 100 as Israel's campaign against militants in the Hamas-ruled enclave continued for a sixth day.

The militant group Islamic Jihad said an Israeli air strike on a Gaza media center killed one of its top leaders.

Israel's army said earlier on November 19 that its warplanes carried out some 80 raids overnight continuing its air strikes in response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Israeli military said the raids targeted buildings where high-level Hamas officials were believed to be located.

Hamas's exiled supreme leader, Khalid Mishaal, said in Cairo that if Israel wanted a truce, it must be the first to initiate talks because "they started the war."

Mishaal also said that Palestinian weapons had caught Israel "off-guard" and that Israel had failed to achieve its objectives in Gaza.

Smoke rises from a fire after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 19.
Smoke rises from a fire after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 19.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 19 called Israel "a terrorist state" as concern mounted about the rising number of Palestinian civilian victims, including children.

Speaking at a Eurasian Islamic Council meeting in Istanbul, Erdogan also said that "those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of the mass killing of Muslims."

"Can those who massacre a child have a place in this world? Can we say they respect humanity? For this reason I say that Israel is a terrorist state."

Egypt's Truce Efforts

Egypt is at the center of efforts to broker a truce to end fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo on November 19 to support Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi's attempts to mediate a cease-fire.

Ban was also scheduled to visit Israel.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Amr has said he will visit Gaza on November 20 alongside a delegation of Arab ministers.

European Union foreign and defense ministers meeting in Brussels on November 19 are also expected to discuss the Gaza crisis.

The European Union's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, speaking ahead of the meeting called for a long-term solution.

"I am very concerned with the loss of life but I have also been saying consistently for a long time that we need to find a long-term solution to Gaza," Ashton said.

"I have been there three times and we have to find a way to prevent the kind of violent rocket attacks we have seen and also to bring some security and peace to the people of the region"

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Israel had a right to self-defense, but also called on the country to show restraint.

China on November 19 called for "maximum restraint" by all parties, especially Israel, in the Gaza Strip conflict.

Several days of Hamas rocket attacks into Israel prompted the Jewish state on November 14 to start a military operation codenamed Pillar of Defense.

Israeli warplanes and missiles launched from land and sea have destroyed suspected Hamas targets in Gaza.
 
Three Israeli civilians have been killed in a Hamas rocket explosion.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and Al-Jazeera

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