GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories- Israel kept up air strikes and artillery fire on the Gaza Strip Monday despite diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed, as its offensive entered the seventh day.
Aircraft struck three training facilities of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, around the coastal territory, but caused no casualties, medics and eyewitnesses said.
They also hit buildings in Gaza City, Deir el-Balah in the southern part of the strip, and in the northern town of Jabaliya, injuring an unspecified number of people.
There was shelling reported in Beit Lahiya, in the far north of the strip, where Israel had earlier warned residents of an impending assault.
Israel also moved against Hamas in the occupied West Bank, arresting at least five of the movement’s lawmakers in Nablus and Jenin, Palestinian security officials told AFP.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said “too many” Palestinian civilians have been killed, as the Palestinian death toll from the punishing Israeli campaign hit 172 with another 1,230 people wounded.
Ban also urged Israel to scrap plans for a potentially devastating ground offensive, fears of which have sent Gazans fleeing from the north.
Israeli media reported that a security cabinet meeting ended late Sunday with no orders for a ground assault.
Israeli army radio quoted security sources “at the most senior level” as saying that there were “four channels for attempts to reach a ceasefire — Qatar, the Palestinian Authority, the Americans and the Egyptians.”
“According to those sources the Egyptian channel is the strongest, the most significant and the one that draws together all those channels of mediation,” the station’s military affairs reporter said.
But despite increasing calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was hitting Hamas “with growing force”, warning there was no end in sight.
“We do not know when this operation will end,” he told ministers.