Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in Gaza

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Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in Gaza
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, sevenral mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, several mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli soldiers attended the funeral of Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. Sgt. Carmeli from Texas, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price, killing scores of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers and forcing thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their devastated Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Khaled Sharmi, 67, left, walks inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian walks inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, inspects the damage in the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man inspects the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Damage can be seen at Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque in Gaza City after an Israeli strike, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, sevenral mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, during his funeral at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. Sgt. Carmeli from Texas, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Thousands of Israelis attended the funeral. On Sunday, the first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price, killing scores of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers and forcing thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their devastated Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, several mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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BY KARIN LAUB

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli airstrikes pummeled a wide range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state began an intensive effort to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed at least 570 Palestinians and 29 Israelis.

Overnight, Israel bombed five mosques, a sports complex and the home of the late Hamas military chief, a Gaza police official said.

The Israel military announced early Tuesday that two more soldiers had died, one from sniper fire on Monday and one from still unexplained causes, bringing the military death toll to 27. It's the highest number of Israeli military fatalities for any campaign since the 2006 Lebanon war. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed in the latest conflict.

The Israeli campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel - some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says - and destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis.

The airstrikes set off huge explosions that turned the night sky over Gaza City orange early Tuesday. The sound of the blasts mixed with the thud of shelling, often just seconds apart, and the pre-dawn call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.

The strikes came as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Cairo late Monday to launch the highest-level push yet to end the deadly conflict. The U.N. has said that the majority of the Palestinians killed were civilians, among them dozens of children.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, five mosques and a sports complex, said Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji. There were no casualties in the mosques or at the sports complex, which includes a gym, three martial arts studios and a soccer field.

Israeli Aircraft Hits Dozens of Gaza Targets

Tank shells also damaged several houses along the eastern border of the territory, he said. At least 19 fishing boats were burned by Israeli navy shells fired from the Mediterranean Sea, Batniji added.

Six upper floors of a Gaza high-rise collapsed onto the two lower stories, buckling them into rubble. At the scene, construction company owner Ehab Batch, 40, and several of his workers were trying to retrieve documents from what had once been the company's 2nd floor offices.

Batch, who said he had had no work in the past year because Egypt had blocked border tunnels that bring in construction material, said Gaza needs an immediate cease-fire and a deal that would open all border crossing points.

"We need Gaza people to have a (normal) life, as all the people in the world," Batch said.

Among the facilities hit overnight were three homes, including one where three women from the same family perished, according to Gaza health official Ashraf al Kidra.

But prospects for a truce remained elusive.

Egypt, Israel and the U.S. back an unconditional cease-fire, to be followed by talks on a possible new border arrangement for Gaza. Israel and Egypt have severely restricted movement in and out of Gaza since Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Hamas, with some support from Qatar and Turkey, wants guarantees on lifting the blockade before halting fire. The Islamic militant group has no faith in mediation by Egypt's rulers, who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago and tightened restrictions on Gaza - to the point of driving Hamas into its worst financial crisis since its founding in 1987.

The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said Monday that Gaza's 1.7 million people share Hamas' goal of forcing Israel and Egypt to lift the blockade.

"We cannot go back, we cannot go back to the silent death" of the blockade, he said. "Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage."

After a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, Ban said that "violence must stop by all sides," and that they must enter negotiations, apparently siding with Cairo's approach.

"We can't claim victory simply by returning matters to where they stood before they led to terrible bloodshed," Ban said.

The border blockade has set Gaza back years, wiping out tens of thousands of jobs through bans on most exports and on imports of vital construction materials Israel says could be diverted by Hamas for military use. Israel allows many consumer goods into Gaza, but experts say Gaza's economy cannot recover without a resumption of exports.

The Rafah passenger crossing with Egypt is Gaza's only gate to the world, but Egypt has tightened restrictions over the past year, allowing only medical patients, Muslim pilgrims and Gazans with foreign passports to travel.

On Monday, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his belief that Israel has the right to defend itself against rockets being launched by Hamas into Israel. Yet, he contended that Israel's military action in Gaza had already done "significant damage" to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure and said he doesn't want to see more civilians getting killed.

On arriving in Cairo, Kerry announced the U.S. will send $47 million in humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes in the coastal territory to escape the violence. Kerry's top aides warned, however, that achieving an immediate and lasting cease-fire would be difficult and he hoped to make any progress over the next several days to secure even a temporary pause in the bloodshed.

It's not clear exactly what Israel and Hamas would each demand in return for agreeing to a truce now, but senior State Department officials said the issue of opening border crossings - potentially into Israel and Egypt - was under discussion.

"We will work to see if there is some way to not only arrive at a cease-fire of some kind but to get to a discussion about the underlying issues," Kerry said at the start of his meeting with Ban. "Nothing will be resolved by any cease-fire, temporary or long, without really getting to those issues at some point and that's what we need to do."

Kerry remained in Cairo on Monday for more meetings with top Egyptian officials. But there were no immediate plans for face-to-face meetings with officials from Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank.

Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in Gaza
A Palestinian woman cries after a neighboring building to her family home was targeted in an Israeli military strike in Gaza City on July 12, 2014. Israel vowed no let-up in its aerial bombardment of Gaza, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives, as a defiant Hamas rained more rockets on the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA, PALESTINE - 2014/07/12: Palestinian girl crying during the funeral of her brother who was killed during the raid of the Israeli Air Force in central Gaza City in the sixth day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health 128 died, about 1,200 wounded, and demolition of more than 500 houses. (Photo by Ahmed Hjazy/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Palestinian mourners cry in a house after the bodies of Mousa Abu Muamer, 56, and his son Saddam, 27, who were killed in an overnight Israeli missile strike at their house in the outskirts of the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, were brought in during their funeral procession, Monday, July 14, 2014. Saddam's wife Hanadi, 27, was also killed in the attack. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Relatives weep as they hold the body of Sarah Omar el-Eid, 4, as the bodies of her father, Omar, 26, and her uncle, Jihad, 27, are brought into a house in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, during their funeral, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The three were killed by an Israeli strike late Monday. Egypt presented a cease-fire plan Monday to end a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that has left at least 185 people dead, and both sides said they were seriously considering the proposal. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 16: People mourn for their relatives who died on Israel's airstrikes in Gaza city, Gaza on 16 July, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Asad/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Palestinian mourners cry during the funeral of four-year-old Palestinian girl Sarah Sheik al-Eid and of her father and uncle, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 15, 2014 after they were killed in an Israeli military strike the previous day. Israel carried out at least four air strikes against Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, resuming raids after a truce that failed to get off the ground, AFP correspondents and eyewitnesses said. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl cries as Palestinians flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, after Israel had airdropped leaflets warning people to leave the area, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Palestinians flee their home in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Alongside the air strikes, Israel also ordered 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. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
TEHRAN, IRAN - JULY 15: A woman cries and holds a photo of Palestinian child who died in Israeli attacks on Gaza in Tehran, Iran, on July 15, 2014. A group of people gather to protest Israeli attacks to Gaza outside United Nations building in capital Tehran. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA, PALESTINE - 2014/07/12: Palestinian girl crying during the funeral of her brother who was killed during the raid of the Israeli Air Force in central Gaza City in the sixth day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health 128 died, about 1,200 wounded, and demolition of more than 500 houses. (Photo by Ahmed Hjazy/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BEIT LAHIA, GAZA, PALESTINE - 2014/07/11: The father of Saher Abu Namous, 4 years old, cries in front oh the grave of his son. Saher Abu Namous was killed by an Israeli helicopter targeting his neighborhood house. Funeral of Saher Abu Namous, 4 years old, held in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip. The child was killed by an Israeli helicopter targeting his neighborhood house. (Photo by Marco Bottelli/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GAZA, PALESTINE - 2014/07/12: Palestinian girl crying during the funeral of her brother who was killed in targeted from the Israeli Air Force in central Gaza City during the sixth day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health 128 died, about 1,200 wounded, and demolition of more than 500 houses. (Photo by Ahmed Hjazy/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 12: A relative of Palestinian Mahmoud Al-Suveyti killed in an Israeli air attack, cries during the funeral ceremony in Gaza City, Gaza on July 12, 2014. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Palestinian mourners cry during the funeral of four-year-old Palestinian girl Sarah Sheik al-Eid and of her father and uncle, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 15, 2014 after they were killed in an Israeli military strike the previous day. Israel carried out at least four air strikes against Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, resuming raids after a truce that failed to get off the ground, AFP correspondents and eyewitnesses said. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian mourners cry during the funeral of four-year-old Palestinian girl Sarah Sheik al-Eid and of her father and uncle, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 15, 2014 after they were killed in an Israeli military strike the previous day. Israel carried out at least four air strikes against Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, resuming raids after a truce that failed to get off the ground, AFP correspondents and eyewitnesses said. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian Zahra Sheikh el-Eid cries as she waits for the bodies of her daughter Sarah Omar el-Eid, 4, her husband Omar, 26, and her brother-in-law Jihad, 27, to be brought in a house in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, during their funeral, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The three were killed by an Israeli strike late Monday. An Egyptian truce proposal for the conflict in Gaza quickly unraveled Tuesday, after the Islamic militant group Hamas rejected the plan. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, after Israel had airdropped leaflets warning people to leave the area, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. A Hamas website says Israel has fired missiles at the homes of four of its senior leaders as it resumed bombardment of Gaza, following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort. Health officials say the Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting has reached 204. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian relatives cry during a funeral of Ibrahim Abu Nasr, 61, and his daughter Amira, 19, in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. The father and his daughter were killed in an Israeli air strike yesterday, Palestinian health officials said. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
A Palestinian mourner cries at a mosque as he sits next to the bodies of Mousa Abu Muamer, 56, and his son Saddam, 27, who were killed in an overnight Israeli missile strike at their house in the outskirts of the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 14, 2014. Saddam's wife, Hanadi, 27, was also killed in the attack. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A girl cries as Palestinians flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, after Israel had airdropped leaflets warning people to leave the area, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. A Hamas website says Israel has fired missiles at the homes of four of its senior leaders as it resumed bombardment of Gaza, following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort. Health officials say the Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting has reached 204.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, after Israel had airdropped leaflets warning people to leave the area, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. A Hamas website says Israel has fired missiles at the homes of four of its senior leaders as it resumed bombardment of Gaza, following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort. Health officials say the Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting has reached 204. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Relatives weep as they hold the body of Sarah Omar el-Eid, 4, as the bodies of her father, Omar, 26, and her uncle, Jihad, 27, are brought into a house in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, during their funeral, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. The three were killed by an Israeli strike late Monday. Egypt presented a cease-fire plan Monday to end a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that has left at least 185 people dead, and both sides said they were seriously considering the proposal. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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