|19 killed in latest Israeli assault on Gaza||
An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed the wife and infant son of Hamas' military leader, Mohammad Deif, the group said, calling it an attempt to assassinate him after a ceasefire collapsed.
Israeli aircraft have carried out 80 strikes in the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, "targeting terror sites," the Israeli military said, according to AFP.
Hamas and medical officials said 19 people died in the latest Israeli raids, including Deif's wife and seven-month-old son. Deif is widely believed to be masterminding the Islamist group's military campaign from underground bunkers.
A Hamas official said Deif had not used the targeted house, where the bodies of three members of the family that lived there were also pulled out of the rubble.
There was no official confirmation from Israel that it had tried to kill Deif, who has been targeted in airstrikes at least four times since the mid-1990s.
"I am convinced that if there was intelligence that Mohammad Deif was not inside the home, then we would not have bombed it," Yaakov Perry, Israel's science minister and former security chief, told Army Radio.
Israeli police minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Security Cabinet, due to convene later Wednesday, told reporters, "We will continue to hit the heads of Hamas."
Accusing Israel of opening a "gateway to hell," Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv and occupied Jerusalem late Tuesday, demonstrating the Islamist movement could still reach Israel's heartland despite heavy Israeli bombardments in the five-week-old conflict.
Palestinians launched more than 100 rockets, mainly at southern Israel, with some intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the military said. No casualties were reported on the Israeli side.
Egypt, which has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire in indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks, said it would continue contacts with both sides, whose delegates left Cairo after hostilities resumed Tuesday.
But there appeared to be no end in sight to violence that shattered a 10-day period of calm, the longest break from fighting since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.
Arab League: Israel 'blocking' Gaza peace efforts
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby accused Israel Wednesday of "blocking" all attempts to end the Gaza conflict.
“Israel is blocking any kind of agreement leading to calm" in the Gaza Strip, Elaraby told journalists.
"The Arab League wants to reach a permanent truce as soon as possible," he said before flying off to Geneva for a meeting with the International Committee of the Red Cross to demand protection of Palestinian civilians.
Accusing Hamas of breaking the truce with rocket fire eight hours before it was to have expired, Israel recalled its negotiators from truce talks in Cairo Tuesday, leaving the fate of the Egyptian-brokered efforts hanging in the balance.
Palestinian negotiators walked out of the talks later, blaming Israel for their failure. “Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace," chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed said.
Five children were killed in separate airstrikes, according to Gaza health officials, and the Israeli military said it targeted two gunmen in northern Gaza.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says 2,036 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza. According to the United Nations, the assault on Gaza has displaced about 425,000 people.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have also been killed.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader