Israel-Hamas fighting enters 18th day

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Israel-Hamas fighting enters 18th day
An Israeli security officer walks past buring tires as at least 10,000 Palestinian protesters marching against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip clash with Israeli soldiers and border police at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, early on July 25, 2014. Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people during the massive protest in the West Bank in support of fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man runs past burning tires as at least 10,000 Palestinian protesters marching against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip clash with Israeli soldiers and border police at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, on 25 July 2014. Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people during the massive protest in the West Bank in support of fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Displaced Palestinian children are pictured on July 25, 2014 at a United Nations (UN) school in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, where they have found shelter after escaping with their families from their homes in areas under heavy Israeli bombardment in the besieged Palestinian territory. Israeli fire pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man hold-up the body of one-year-old baby Noha Mesleh, who died of wounds sustained after a UN school in Beit Hanun was hit by an Israeli tank shell, during her funeral in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, on July 25, 2014. Fifteen people were killed when Israeli fire hit a UN-run school in Gaza, raising the Palestinian toll on the 17th day of the conflict to 777, medics said. AFP PHOTO/ MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
Debris from a building in the center of Gaza City hit by an Israeli airstrike is seen July 25, 2014. Israeli fire pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)
A wounded Palestinian is brought into the Ramallah city hospital as at least 10,000 Palestinian protesters marching against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip clash with Israeli soldiers and border police at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, late on July 24, 2014. Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people during the massive protest in the West Bank in support of fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A wounded Palestinian is brought into the Ramallah city hospital as at least 10,000 Palestinian protesters marching against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip clash with Israeli soldiers and border police at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, late on July 24, 2014. Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people during the massive protest in the West Bank in support of fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A wounded Palestinian youth is brought into the Ramallah Hospital as at least 10,000 Palestinian protesters marching against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip clash with Israeli soldiers and border police at the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, early on July 25, 2014. Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 150 other people during the massive protest in the West Bank in support of fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. An Israeli defense official says the Israeli Security Cabinet is meeting to discuss international cease-fire efforts, but also the option of expanding its forces' eight-day-old ground operation in Gaza. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man walks next to a destroyed house following an overnight Israeli strike in Gaza City Friday, July 25, 2014. Early Friday, Israeli warplanes struck tens of houses throughout the Gaza Strip as international efforts continue to broker a cease fire in the 18 day-old war. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Friday, July 25, 2014. An Israeli defense official says the Israeli Security Cabinet is meeting to discuss international cease-fire efforts, but also the option of expanding its forces' eight-day-old ground operation in Gaza. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli aircraft struck 30 houses in the Gaza Strip early Friday, killing a leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group and two of his sons, while ground troops and Hamas gunmen fought intense battles in the north and center of the territory, Palestinian officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed dozens of sites were hit, including what it said were Hamas command posts, but did not elaborate.

With the current round of fighting entering its 18th day, Israel's Security Cabinet was to meet later Friday to decide whether to expand its operation or consider ideas for a cease-fire.

One plan calls for a five-day humanitarian truce during which Israel and Hamas would negotiate new border arrangements for blockaded Gaza, said Hana Amireh, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official in the West Bank, who is involved in cease-fire efforts.

Hamas has said it will not halt fire without international guarantees that Egypt and Israel will open Gaza's border crossings and end their seven-year-old border blockade. Israel and Egypt are reluctant to ease the blockade, fearing this will enable Hamas to tighten its grip on Gaza.

Israeli media reported that the military also wants more time to continue destroying rocket sites and tunnels from Gaza into Israel that Hamas has used to launch attacks. The military has found 31 tunnels but only destroyed about one-third of them so far.

Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank

In Jerusalem, meanwhile, thousands of Israeli security forces were deployed for possible Palestinian protests after Friday prayers at a key Muslim holy site, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

The night before, thousands of Palestinians protesting the Gaza fighting clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. One Palestinian was killed and dozens were wounded, according to Palestinian medical officials.

In Gaza, the death toll soared to 808, after 115 Palestinians were killed on Thursday in one of the deadliest days of fighting, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official. Thirty-four Israelis, among them 32 soldiers, and a Thai worker have been killed since July 8.

Early Friday, Israeli warplanes struck 30 houses throughout the Gaza Strip, including the home of Salah Hassanein, a leader of the military wing of Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas.

Hassanein and two of his sons were killed in the strike, said Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji and al-Kidra.

Over the past two weeks, Israeli aircraft have repeatedly hit homes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. Most had gone into hiding, but the strikes killed a leader of an Islamic Jihad rocket squad, a Hamas commander and a son of senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya, according to the Israeli military.

Such strikes have also claimed the lives of a large number of civilians. A Gaza human rights group said earlier this week that close to 500 homes have been damaged or destroyed in direct hits from the air, and that more than 320 people have been killed in their homes as a result of military strikes.

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