Israel destroys 2 Gaza high-rises in escalation

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Israel destroys 2 Gaza high-rises in escalation
A Palestinian boy holds an umbrella as he rests in front of the damaged Nada Towers residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire halting the Gaza war held into Monday morning, allowing Palestinians to leave homes and shelters as negotiators agreed to resume talks in Cairo. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians inspect the rubble and salvage items from the Al-Zafer apartment tower following Israeli airstrikes Saturday that collapsed the 12-story building, in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The army said the Gaza City apartment tower was targeted because a Hamas command center operated from there. The weekend strikes by Israel marked the first time large buildings were toppled signaling a new escalation in seven weeks of fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians walk near the damaged Italian Complex high-rise following several late night Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians inspect the damage of a Rafah commercial center after an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The Gaza police operation room reported three airstrikes on a Rafah commercial center, which consists of two floors and includes 100 shops. The building almost collapsed and a huge fire erupted in the shops. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Palestinians look at the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that was destroyed in early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian family looks from a window to the rubble of the collapsed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A ball of fire rises from an explosion following an Israeli air strike on the house of Nafez Azzam, a leader for Islamic Jihad leader, one hour before the announcement of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
A ball of fire rises from an explosion following an Israeli air strike on the house of Nafez Azzam, a leader for Islamic Jihad leader, one hour before the announcement of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinians inspect the damage to the Italian Complex following several late night Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians have a coffee next to the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that collapsed from early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians rest amid the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that was leveled in early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. The wall painting depicts the pilgrimage to Mecca or Haj. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire in the rubble of the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower that was leveled in early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower, following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian doctor treats an injured child, following an Israeli airstrike on a building, at the treatment room of al Najar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinians inspect the rubble of the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian family watch from a window as people below inspect the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that collapsed following early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises from the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives cry after they saw the body of Ahmad Jarboua, 25, who was killed in an Israeli strike with other two people, at Najar hospital in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Three men were killed and five were wounded in a strike on a group of men east of Rafah near the waste water treatment plant, according to Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
A Palestinian boy sits next to the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians inspect the damage to the Italian Complex high-rise following several late night Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives weep during the funeral of Ibrahim Hamad, an Islamic Jihad militant, at his family house during his funeral in Rafah refugee Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Hamad was killed in an Israeli strike while riding a motorcycle Thursday night in Rafah, according to Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire in the rubble of the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower, following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the 15-story Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Mohamed al-Remawi (2R) is helped by his friend Mohamed Labbad (R) as they come off a pile of rubble after looking in vain for important documents from Remawi's family at a high rise apartment building in Gaza City on August 26, 2014 after is was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. An Israeli air raid in Gaza killed two Palestinians as Israel pursued its campaign to stop rocket fire by Hamas militants from the enclave, medics said. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian men watch as the rubble left from a collapsed building, that was targeted by Israeli airstrikes overnight, is cleared off a street in Gaza City on August 26, 2014. Israeli air strikes on Gaza City killed two Palestinians early Tuesday, while scores more were wounded when warplanes bombed two high-rise residential blocks, medics and witnesses said. The raids came as Israel stepped up the pressure on Hamas on day 50 of a bloody confrontation which began on July 8 and has claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 on the Israeli side. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian men watch as the rubble left from a collapsed building that was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight is cleared off a street in Gaza City on August 26, 2014. Israeli air raids on Gaza City killed two Palestinians early in the morning while scores more were wounded when warplanes bombed two high-rise residential blocks, medics and witnesses said. The raids came as Israel stepped up the pressure on Hamas on day 50 of a bloody confrontation which began on July 8 and has claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 on the Israeli side. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man walks past the toppled remains of a government school that was targeted by overnight Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on August 26, 2014. Israeli air raids on Gaza City killed two Palestinians while scores more were wounded when warplanes bombed two high-rise residential blocks, medics and witnesses said. The raids came as Israel stepped up the pressure on Hamas on day 50 of a bloody confrontation which began on July 8 and has claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 on the Israeli side. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian children sit on a sidewalk as they wait for their parents to retrieve some of their family's belongings from a partially destroyed house across the street from a high rise apartment building in Gaza City (R) that was targeted by Israeli airstrikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel since fighting started on July 8. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man walks on the rubble of a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel since fighting started on July 8. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of a partially destroyed house across the street from a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014 collect some of their possesions as they move elsewhere to take refuge. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel since fighting started on July 8. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A resident of a partially destroyed house across the street from a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014 carries a bag and a pair of shoes. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel since fighting started on July 8. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian woman takes some of their belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a high rise apartment building in Gaza City was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian woman gestures as she walks away from her partially destroyed home (not shown) carrying some of her belongings across the street where a high rise apartment building in Gaza City was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinians take some of their belongings from their partially destroyed home across from the street where a high rise apartment building in Gaza City was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian woman gets help from a boy as she takes some of her belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a high rise apartment building in Gaza City was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man looks from the door of his partially destroyed home at a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strike overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower and the neighbourhood were warned to leave the area before the bombing took place. The UN estimates that about a quarter of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza have been displaced by fighting between Hamas militants and Israel since fighting started on July 8. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinians walk at the base of what used to be a high rise apartment building in Gaza City that was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. The residents of the tower were warned to leave the building before the bombing took place. An Israeli air raid in Gaza killed two Palestinians, as Israel pursued its campaign to stop rocket fire by Hamas militants from the enclave, medics said. AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinians search through rubble of a destroyed house in Rafah's district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. The attack at the Shawkah district east of the Gaza town of Rafah drew what was by far the heaviest shelling by the Israeli military in the Gaza war, killing nearly 100 people that day alone and instantly unraveling a three-day ceasefire shortly after it came into force. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian woman gets emotional as she stands on the rubble of a house belong to al Akhras family after it was hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, early Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrke on a house at the Rafah refugee camp, according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Palestinians walk amid the rubble of a house belonging to the al-Dakhani family after it was hit by Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrike on the house according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
A Palestinian man stands on the balcony of his destroyed house as he waits for the visit of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to Gaza's neighborhood of Shijaeyih, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Members of the new Palestinian unity government assembled in Gaza on Thursday for their first Cabinet session in the war-battered territory - a largely symbolic meeting meant to mark the end of absolute Hamas control of the coastal strip. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A members of the Palestinian security walks on the rubble before Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah tours the destroyed houses in an area east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Members of the new Palestinian unity government assembled in Gaza on Thursday for their first Cabinet session in the war-battered territory - a largely symbolic meeting meant to mark the end of absolute Hamas control of the coastal strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian walks on the rubble of Omar Ibn Abed Al-Aziz mosque, which was hit by an Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The third Gaza War in six years appears to have ended in another sort of tie, with both Israel and Hamas claiming the upper hand. Their questionable achievements have come at a big price, especially to long-suffering Palestinians in Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian boy looks through the damage of Omar Ibn Abed Al-Aziz mosque, which was hit by an Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The third Gaza War in six years appears to have ended in another sort of tie, with both Israel and Hamas claiming the upper hand. Their questionable achievements have come at a big price, especially to long-suffering Palestinians in Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians attend a victory rally organized by masked militant of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas, at the debris of destroyed houses in Shijaiyah, neighborhood of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. An open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip was holding Wednesday. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke, dust and debris rise from an explosion following an Israeli air strike on the house of Nafez Azzam, a leader for Islamic Jihad leader, one hour before the announcement of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire at the rubble of a five-storey building of the Sheikh Zaid housing project following an Israeli strike, thirteen minutes before the announcment of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians inspect the rubble of the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian firefighters inspect the rubble of a five-storey building of the Sheikh Zaid housing project following an Israeli strike, thirteen minutes before the announcement of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian, who is a neighbor of a house belonging to the Abu Hamada family, inspects the damage to his house, after an Israeli strike in Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Several people were wounded in an airstrike on houses in Jebaliya refugee camp, according toGaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians inspect the damage of a Rafah commercial center after an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The Gaza police operation room reported three airstrikes on a Rafah commercial center, which consists of two floors and includes 100 shops. The building almost collapsed and a huge fire erupted in the shops. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Palestinians run to take cover after an Israeli strike hit a three-story building belonging to the Abdul Hadi family in Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians inspect the rubble and salvage items from the Al-Zafer apartment tower following Israeli airstrikes Saturday that collapsed the 12-story building, in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The Gaza City apartment tower was targeted because a Hamas command center operated from there, the army said. The weekend strikes by Israel marked the first time large buildings were toppled signaling a new escalation in seven weeks of fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians inspect the rubble and salvage items from the Al-Zafer apartment tower following Israeli airstrikes Saturday that collapsed the 12-story building, in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. The army said the Gaza City apartment tower was targeted because a Hamas command center operated from there. The weekend strikes by Israel marked the first time large buildings were toppled signaling a new escalation in seven weeks of fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra))
A Palestinian protester runs away from Israeli soldiers during clashes, following a protest against the Israeli military action in Gaza, in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
A Palestinian inspects the damage of a building after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
In this Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 photo, a Palestinian boy stands in front of the Hamza Ibn Abdul-Mutaleb Mosque that was destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City. Israel has hit and destroyed 63 mosques in Gaza in its month-old war with Hamas, Palestinian officials say. The reason, Israel says, is that Hamas is using mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers and hide tunnels. Gaza’s Hamas rulers deny the accusations. But in its determination to go after what it says are militant arsenals, Israel is throwing aside any reluctance it had in the past to hit religious sites for fear of a diplomatic backlash. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian Ziad Rizk, 38, sits with others in a shelter made of a blanket stretched over four boles next to one of the destroyed Nada Towers, where he lost his apartment and clothes shop, in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian Ziad Rizk, 38, sits with others in a shelter made of a blanket stretched over four boles next to one of the destroyed Nada Towers, where he lost his apartment and clothes shop, in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
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By IBRAHIM BARZAK

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing one building and severely damaging the other in a further escalation of seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas.

In the past, the military has hit targets in high-rises in pinpoint strikes, but left the buildings standing. However, since Saturday, it has toppled or destroyed five towers and shopping complexes in an apparent new tactic aimed at increasing pressure on the Hamas militant group.

The objects of the latest strikes contain apartments inhabited almost exclusively by middle-class Gazans, who up until now have been largely spared the considerable dislocation that has affected tens of thousands of other residents in densely populated neighborhoods of the coastal strip, like Shijaiyah.

That has raised the possibility that the Israeli military is trying to use better-off Gazans, like professionals and Palestinian authority employees, to put pressure on Hamas to end the fighting on Israel's terms.

Tuesday's strikes leveled the 15-story Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices.

Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said 25 people were wounded in the attack on the Italian Complex.

One resident of the Italian Complex, 38-year-old engineer Nael Mousa, said that he, his four children and 70-year-old mother had managed to flee the building late Monday night after a guard had alerted them of an impending strike, and that he was in his car some 300 meters (yards) away when it was bombed by an Israeli F-16 fighter jet.

Within two hours, he said, it had been completely levelled by at least five additional bombs.

"I have become homeless, my children's fear will never be soothed, and something new has now been added to our feelings toward Israel and all the world, which has been looking on without doing anything," he said.

The Israeli military said it targeted sites linked to militants Tuesday, but made no specific reference to the two buildings. Israel alleges Hamas often operates from civilian locations. The military has not said why it has begun collapsing large buildings, rather than carrying out pinpointed strikes against suspected militant targets located there.

In an email message to The Associated Press, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the strikes were "a direct result to Hamas' decision to situate their terrorist infrastructure within the civilian sphere including schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings."

He said Israel will not "enable Hamas to continue to kill Israelis, target our towns and cities and expect to operate without consequence to their facilities, militant operatives and the leadership of their heinous attacks against Israel."

Political scientist Mkhaimar Abu Sada from Gaza's Al Azhar University said he believed the Israeli tactic was a deliberate attempt to pressure Hamas by targeting middle class structures in neighborhoods like Rimal and Tel al-Hawa, which have so far been spared the worst of the fighting.

He said the tactic will end up creating even greater antipathy toward Israel, but might also result in some tough questions being asked about Hamas' conduct of the war.

"Some people will now be wondering why Hamas did not accept a cease-fire proposal during the first week of the fighting, when the damage here was still relatively small," he said.

Retired Israeli air force brigadier general Shlomo Brom, now a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said he was doubtful that the high-rise structures had been targeted solely because of their middle-class makeups.

"I have no doubt that these buildings were hit primarily because they contained offices or other facilities that belonged to Hamas," he said.

Also on Tuesday, two people were killed in an airstrike on a house in Gaza City, police said, and the Red Crescent reported that two others died and three were wounded when Israeli tanks opened fire on Shijaiyah, east of Gaza City.

Israel's military said it carried out 15 air strikes in Gaza on Tuesday.

It said eight rockets were launched from the coastal strip at Israeli territory, including one that caused extensive damage to a home in the southern city of Ashkelon and lightly injured more than a dozen people there.

The latest strikes came as Egypt urged Israel and Hamas to resume indirect talks on a permanent cease-fire, based on an Egyptian proposal for a new border deal for blockaded Gaza.

The Egyptian offer calls for a gradual easing of restrictions on trade and movement in and out of Gaza and would give Hamas' Palestinian rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, a foothold in the strip.

Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, triggering the blockade that has been enforced to varying degrees since then.

Israel and Hamas have not responded to Egypt's latest call.

Gaza's war has so far killed at least 2,133 Palestinians and wounded more than 11,000, according to Palestinian health officials and the United Nations. The U.N. estimates more than 17,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving 100,000 people homeless.

On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, all but four of them soldiers.

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