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Israel strikes Gaza’s media building, targets Al Arabiya’s office

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Two Israeli air raids targeted a media building in Gaza Sunday morning including Al Arabiya’s office, reported the channel’s correspondent.

The 12-storey building, which included offices of Arab and Western media outlets, was extensively damaged, according to Al Arabiya’s correspondent, who ensured that there were no gunmen or militants at the site.

The Israeli air strike on Gaza City’s media building injured at least six journalists at the building, as a separate raid in northern Gaza killed two people, Palestinian medical sources said.

“At least six journalists were wounded, with minor and moderate injuries, when Israeli warplanes hit the al-Quds TV office in the Showa and Housari building in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

Witnesses said journalists had evacuated after an initial strike, which was followed by at least two more on the site.

The injured were taken to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital. One journalist lost his leg in the attack, Qudra said.

Imad Efranji, director of the al-Quds TV office, slammed the incident as “a new crime against the media.”

“It was the media battle that forced Israel to stop its killing of children and civilians last time,” he told AFP, referring to Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 Operation Cast Lead.

Later on Sunday, the Gaza-based offices of a Kremlin-funded international Russian TV broadcaster were severely damaged in the same Israeli raid on two buildings housing Palestinian and other media outlets, the station said.

The Israeli army confirmed attacking the Shuruq centre in Gaza City in an attempt to interrupt what it said was Hamas "operational communications" from the building.

The raid completely destroyed the offices of Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas-affiliated television station that the Israeli military accuses of cooperating closely with militants who operate from the Gaza Strip.

In the northern strip, Israeli war planes carried out two separate raids on houses that killed two and injured 10 others, Qudra said.

“Two young citizens were killed and at least ten others wounded in two separate raids on houses in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun,” he said.

In another Israeli strike on the coastal enclave Sunday, three people were killed, including two women, said a statement from the Hamas-run emergency services said.

The statement said two women and a man had been killed and 10 wounded in a strike which hit a house in the city's northern Nasser district, raising the overall toll to 56 Palestinians killed in nearly 100 hours of relentless raids, with more than 450 people wounded.

On the ground, al-Qassam military wing said on Sunday that Hamas had fired a ‘107 Rocket’ at an Israeli warship and launched four other rockets at Ashkelon, an Israeli border city with Gaza, reported Al Arabiya.

Earlier on Saturday, Hamas said it had launched more than 900 rockets on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in addition to downing an Israeli navel and a drone.

In Tel Aviv, sirens sounded across the city on Sunday for a fourth straight day , according to AFP, as Israeli police confirmed two Hamas rockets had been intercepted over the city by the Iron Dome defense system.

“Two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system,” police spokesman Luba Samri told AFP shortly after the sirens sent residents running for cover across the commercial metropolis and in nearby Bnei Brak and Ramat HaSharon.

Israel launched a massive air campaign on Gaza since last Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Strip, from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.

More casualties reported

An Israeli air strike on central Gaza killed an 18-month-old Palestinian child and wounded his two young brothers on Sunday, an emergency services spokesman told AFP.

“An 18-month-old baby was killed in a strike east of Bureij (refugee) camp in central Gaza,” spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya told AFP, naming the toddler as Iyyad Abu Khusa.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that the two wounded boys, aged four and five, were “in critical condition.”

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the strike, which took place several hours after two other people were killed in separate air strikes on the northern towns of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya.

The attacks came after a quiet night on the Israeli side of the border, with the military confirming that no rockets had hit between 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Saturday and 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Sunday, after which two struck the south.

Possible ceasefire

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Saturday there were “indications” that Hamas and Israel could reach “a ceasefire soon.”
“There are some indications that there could be a ceasefire soon,” Mursi said at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that there were still “no guarantees.”

Arab ministers had given their backing on Saturday to Egyptian efforts to secure a truce that would end Israel’s offensive on Gaza, they said in a statement after an Arab League meeting in Cairo.

Arab foreign ministers also agreed to form a delegation to travel to the Palestinian enclave in a show of support. League chief Nabil Elaraby told reporters he would lead the team and that the trip was expected to take place in “one or two days”.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left Paris Sunday for Israel “to call on all the parties to stop the escalation and offer France’s help to reach an immediate ceasefire,” his ministry said.

During his one-day trip, the minister will meet with the Israeli authorities and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, his ministry said in a statement.

“This visit prepared in coordination with our principal regional and international partners, will be the occasion for talks” with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, his ministry said.