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Israel targets homes of senior Hamas leaders



GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel on Wednesday intensified air attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort, targeting the homes of four senior leaders of the Islamic militant movement. It also told tens of thousands of residents to leave Gaza's border areas ahead of more strikes.

The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with some 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. On the Israeli side, one man was killed and several people were wounded since the fighting erupted on July 8.

The renewed bombings came a day after Israel initially accepted an Egyptian truce proposal that called for a halt of hostilities. That was to be followed by talks on the terms of a longer-term cease-fire, including easing Gaza's seven-year-old border blockade by Israel and Egypt.

Hamas rejected the plan and instead launched more rockets at Israel. The militant group views a significant easing of the blockade as key to its survival, but does not believe Egypt's current rulers - who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo last year - can be fair brokers.

As Cairo's effort collapsed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas will pay a high price for rejecting the truce offer.

The website of the Gaza Interior Ministry said Israel warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes before dawn Wednesday, targeting 30 houses, including those of senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar, Jamila Shanti, Fathi Hamas and Ismail Ashkar.

Zahar was a key figure in Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, while the other three were members of the Palestinian parliament elected in 2006. Many Hamas leaders have gone into hiding since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.

Alongside the air strikes, Israel also told tens of thousands of residents of the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Zeitoun and Shijaiyah neighborhoods of Gaza City, all near the border with Israel, to evacuate their homes by 8 a.m. Wednesday. The warnings were delivered in automated phone calls, text messages and leaflets dropped from planes.

The Israeli military said in its message that large numbers of rockets were launched from these areas and that Israel plans to bomb these locations.

"Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families," the message said.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of residents of Zeitoun and Shijaiyah were seen walking in the streets, carrying small bags with belongings.

Older children carried smaller ones, in their arms or on their backs. Some of the women and children cried, looking terrified.

The Wafa Rehabilitation Center in Shijaiyah, which cares for 15 disabled and elderly patients, received several calls demanding the patients evacuate, said its director, Basman Ashi.

He said an Israel shell hit near the building, causing damage to the second floor, but no injuries. Ashi said he won't evacuate because his elderly patients have nowhere to go.

Four foreign volunteers - from England, the U.S., France and Sweden - have set up camp at the rehabilitation center to deter the military from targeting it.

English volunteer Rina Andolini, 32, said the patients range in age from 12 to over 70 and none can walk or move without assistance. She said there are also 17 Palestinian staff members.

Andolini said the patients are living in a constant state of fear, intensified by the Israeli tank shelling from across the border.

When asked about the situation at the rehabilitation center, the office of the Israeli military spokesman said its residents "have been asked repeatedly to leave."

"There is a rocket launching site in the area," the military said, adding that Gaza militants use the center to hide "behind civilians."

---

Enav reported from Jerusalem.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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kiick23 July 16 2014 at 7:14 AM

Hamas rejects truce. Hamas continues rocket attacks while Israel stopped air attacks. Hamas charter calls for murder of every Jew in Israel. Hamas rockets fired with no regard for Israeli civilian population. Hamas rocket attacks with no regard for Israeli civilian population a crime against humanity and a war crime. Hamas leadership must be extinguished. Those who enable Hamas must be extinguished. Israel has the moral right to extinguish Hamas. Hamas will be extinguished.

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1 reply
Dave kiick23 July 16 2014 at 8:46 AM

Any Hamas leader who is captured should be put on trial for crimes against humanity and executed if found guilty.

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2 replies
thosholzel Dave July 16 2014 at 9:46 AM

Israel doesn't have a death penalty--unless you're REALLY bad, e.g., Adolf Eichman.

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tma2c Dave July 16 2014 at 10:23 AM

There should be no capture.

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chuck July 16 2014 at 6:47 AM

GO Isreal. dont stop untill all of them are dead!

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1 reply
Denny chuck July 16 2014 at 3:44 PM

Israel will never have peace....they are guilty of commiting genocide

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1 reply
delmarwood Denny July 16 2014 at 7:49 PM

genocide? you must be a low information obama supporter

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Michael July 16 2014 at 7:06 AM

Hope the Israelis make the cowardly Hamas leadership pay.

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1 reply
accurateauto281 Michael July 16 2014 at 12:56 PM

I hope the Hamas leaderaship has to pay too but the article said they went into hiding. And left the innocent in harms way. Evacuating is not easy. It is hard enough trying to run from a hurricane much less war. I feel so bad for the women and kids that lose out. They have no choice in the matter. Israel gives warning before bombing but Hamas just sends rockets over left and right with no warning. If it wasn't for Israels military, many Isralites would be killed.

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diverdiv July 16 2014 at 8:04 AM

When Hamas locates their launching site in neighborhood schoolyards and hospitals they target their own. The elimination of Hamas would benefit our planet.

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Dave July 16 2014 at 8:44 AM

The Palestinians asked for it by letting Hamas become a part of their government. Israel warned the civilians so they have no claim to being victims when Hamas hides among them.

Hamas started this and should be "neutralized" where ever they are located.

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Jay July 16 2014 at 11:01 AM

"US President Barack Obama speaks as he hosts an Iftar dinner in the State Dinning Room at the White House in Washington on July 14, 201," is the caption to one of the images accompanying this article. It may as well have been titled, "Nero fiddles while Rome burns." What an incompetent we have as a president. Those who voted this empty suit into office should be ashamed of themselves.

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3 replies
AttyGilbert July 16 2014 at 9:40 AM

Wake up America. Hamas and Iran want to destroy Israel and the United States. Our President, as he was in his Illinois state legislative position is doing nothing. Israel tried to negotiate but Hamas would not and kept seeking to destroy them. This President should be impeached. AOL should be ashamed in the way you wrote this story. I encourage folks to look at the history of these two organizations. The liberal media has long protected this President.

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1 reply
mrjoeped AttyGilbert July 16 2014 at 2:43 PM

Well you are right about Hamas but your rant about President Obama is a complete lie. For example, the White House was instrumental in handing over the Iron Dome technology to Israel. There are other examples but people like you are not interested in facts.

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2 replies
wupton1651 mrjoeped July 16 2014 at 3:01 PM

So WHICH president Actually gave the Iron Dome to Israel? Where exactly do you get your alleged "facts"? Obama HATEs Israel and has made it known since day one of his presidency! WHERE have you been - in the Dark Ages like all AL Queda?

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Diane mrjoeped July 16 2014 at 4:44 PM

The Iron Dome was invented in Israel for their own defense.

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Hey, Dude July 16 2014 at 10:31 AM

Israel has the decency to warn civilians to leave before they attack...the filthy Hamas terrorists would never be so humane. That's further proof that israel is the good guy in this, and the Hamas terrorists are the bad guys. I hope israel gets every last terrorist, and sends all of those things back to hell...after all, that's where all terrorist scum were spawned in the first place.

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mberkus July 16 2014 at 10:00 AM

Time to take off the white gloves and roll in the tanks. If you can't stop firing rockets and life in peace, then die.

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juststeve35 July 16 2014 at 12:03 PM

As well they should...

Yet these despicable creatures will forbid their wife and children from evacuating from under the target site!

Deliberately planning the death of their own flesh and blood, purely for the political posturing it will bring...

Could there be a more despicable creature on the planet than these blood thirsty animals that lead Hamas?

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