AL JAZEERA (Qatar), THE GUARDIAN, BBC NEWS (UK), REUTERS
JERUSALEM - Two Palestinians were reportedly killed during the visit of Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil in Gaza, dashing hopes of a possible ceasefire between Israel and Palestine
Earlier, Israel pledged to suspend the strikes during Kandil’s visit, if Palestinian militants refrained from firing rockets, thus creating what Reuters called a "tiny window to emergency peace diplomacy in Gaza."
But shortly after the prime minister arrived, Israeli and Palestinian officials accused each other of violating the temporary truce, BBC News reports.
Overnight, Israeli war planes pounded Gaza with around 150 air strikes, with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) targeting rocket-launching sites and arms depots. The Guardian reports that the Israeli military is calling up 16,000 reservists, after receiving permission to draft up to 30,000 – a clear sign that Israel is preparing to further escalate Operation Pillar of Defense.
At least 20 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since the offensive began on Wednesday when Israel killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the military chief of Hamas, and started to shell the coastal enclave in response to increasing rocket fire from Gaza.
Fighting reached a new level on Thursday evening, when two rockets were fired from the Gaza strip on the Tel Aviv area for the first time – although no casualties were reported, one rocket crashing into the sea and the other in an uninhabited part of the Jaffa suburb south of the city.