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12 Killed in Israeli Air Strikes on 48th Day of War

Harinder Mishra/Gaza/Jerusalem
File - AP/PTI

At least 12 Palestinians were killed today in Israeli air strikes on Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing that the military offensive would continue as long as necessary, even as the death toll in the 48-day war neared 2,200.

Israel today took its military campaign to a new level by flattening a 13-storey apartment tower in Gaza following a warning to residents to evacuate.

The strikes in the southern town of Rafah came just hours after Israel bombed an apartment tower in Gaza City, collapsing the 12-storey building with 44 apartments. Around 30 people were wounded but no one was killed, officials said.

The targeting of large buildings appears to be part of a new military tactic by Israel. Over the weekend, the army began warning Gaza residents in automated phone calls that it would target buildings harbouring "terrorist infrastructure" and that they should stay away.

An Israeli air strike killed a mother and three children from the same family in northern Gaza today, medics said.

The strike hit a home near Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory, emergency spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, taking today's death toll in Gaza to at least 12.

Earlier, Israeli air strikes killed eight Palestinians in Gaza, including a one-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, as militants kept up rocket fire into Israel.

Likening Hamas to the brutal Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq, Netanyahu today vowed to continue with Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza "until all of its goals are achieved and this can take time".

"We decided that there will be no immunity for anyone who fires rockets, and that is relevant for every front and any person," Netanyahu told his cabinet at its weekly meeting in reference to rocket fire at Israel.

"We are not alone in this – Hamas is ISIS (IS) and ISIS is Hamas...These are groups that execute their own members and have no issue killing children. Hamas recently admitted to kidnapping and killing Eyal, Naftali and Gilad (the three Israeli teenagers) and the world is wising up to this with every passing day," he said.

Addressing growing anger by residents of Israel's south, who were told that they could return home before ceasefire efforts collapsed and fighting started anew, Netanyahu said that he respects their endurance and feels their pain.

"Our enemies will not exhaust us, and they will receive attrition instead. We will continue to hit Hamas and Gaza terror groups," the Israeli Premier asserted.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza since the start of Israel's military operation on July 8, is now well over 2,100 with more than 10,500 injured.

68 Israelis have died, 64 of them soldiers, and the Jewish state has come under heavy rocket and mortar attack.

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PLACES: IsraelPalestineEgypt
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 24 August, 2014
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