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Gaza offensive enters third week

Source: Reuters - Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:12 AM
Author: Reuters
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Israeli air strikes overnight brought the offensive on Gaza into its third week and the total death toll on both sides heading rapidly towards 600.

By Tuesday morning at least 550 Palestinians had lost their lives since the conflict began.

Most of them were civilians and nearly 100 of them children, according to Palestinian health officials.

Israel's dead stood at 29 including two civilians killed by Palestinian rocket fire.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing his diplomatic push for a ceasefire in Egypt.

On Tuesday he held talks with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, SAYING:

"I look forward to a good conversation to talk about how we can build on it and hopefully find, not only a way to a ceasefire, but a way to deal with the underlying issues which are very complicated, so I'm very grateful to my friend for his efforts."

In Tel Aviv, rival demonstrations by Israelis and Israeli Arabs for and against the offensive highlight the intensity of feeling on both sides.

(SOUNDBITE) ISRAELI RESIDENT OF TEL AVIV, EATHAN MARIZOV, SAYING:

"We are coming here to express our support and solidarity for all the soldiers that are currently now defending our country. This is an operation that is a must. They are just defending our country."

(SOUNDBITE) HEAD OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN JAFFA, WAEL MUHAMEED, SAYING:

"Tonight we are here, gathering all the Muslims of Jaffa, its Arab population, its Palestinian population, who are here protesting against the Israeli occupation in Gaza and we think that the army of Israel is killing many women, children and men."

The U.S. has announced a $47 million humanitarian aid package to help Gaza's residents.

Even so, U.S. officials are admitting diplomatic efforts to find a ceasefire wouldn't be easy.

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