Israel warns Gaza offensive may ‘take time’

Palestinian firefighters participate in efforts to put out a fire at the scene of what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City August 23, 2014. (Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his ministers on Sunday that the military campaign against Gaza militants would continue until peace is restored to southern Israel.

"Operation Protective Edge will continue until its aims are achieved ... it may take time," he said of the Gaza offensive launched on July 8, in remarks broadcast by public radio.

Earlier Sunday police in the Gaza Strip said Israeli airstrikes leveled a seven-floor office building and severely damaged a two-story commercial building with dozens of shops in the southern town of Rafah.

Inside the seven-floor Zourab building was an office of the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. The attack on the commercial building wounded at least seven people.

There were no reports of casualties from the other strike.

The strikes early came hours after Israel toppled a 12-story apartment tower in Gaza City. Israel says it targeted a Hamas operations room in the apartment tower.

On Saturday, an Israeli air strike on central Gaza claimed the lives of at least five Palestinians of the same family, medical officials said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The air strike hit a house in central Gaza before dawn on Saturday killing five family members, including two women and two children, Palestinian medics said.

Emergency services initially said three people were killed and five wounded, but later announced that two people had died of their injuries after the raid in al-Zawayda near the Nusseirat refugee camp.

The air raid hit a family home, witnesses and medics said.

Doctors at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah said the five dead all came from the same family -- a 28-year-old father, his 26-year-old wife and their two boys aged three and four.

The father's 45-year-old aunt was also killed, they said.

The attack came as the bloody conflict between Hamas and Israel entered its 47th day, killing more than 2,095 Palestinians, and 68 people on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers.

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume ceasefire talks, but violence continued unabated.

(With AFP and AP)
 

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