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Body count up in Israel air strikes

- Obama backs raids on Gaza, signals truce bid

Gaza City, Nov. 18: Israeli forces killed at least 11 people, including several children, in a single air strike that destroyed a home here on Sunday.

Israel pressed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip for a fifth day, deploying warplanes and naval vessels to pummel the coastal enclave.

The air strike, which the Israeli military said was meant to kill a Palestinian militant involved in the recent rocket attacks, was the deadliest operation to date and would no doubt weigh on negotiations for a possible ceasefire. Among the dead were five women and four small children, Associated Press reported, citing a Palestinian health official.

Two media offices were also hit on Sunday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned of a “significant” expansion in the onslaught, which has already killed over 50 people, many of them civilians.

Speaking from Bangkok, US President Barack Obama condemned missile attacks by Palestinian fighters in Gaza and defended Israel’s right to protect itself.

“There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said in his first public comments since the violence broke out. “We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.”

The President said that efforts were under way to address Israel’s security concerns and end the violence. “We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours,” Obama said.

Netanyahu made his warning as militants in Gaza aimed at least one rocket at Tel Aviv, a day after Israeli forces broadened the attack beyond military targets.

Netanyahu’s remarks were reported shortly after a battery of Israel’s Iron Dome defence shield, hastily deployed near Tel Aviv on Saturday in response to the threat of longer-range rockets, intercepted at least one aimed at the city on Sunday, Israeli officials said.

 
 
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