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Date published: 11/20/2012
As part of global efforts to end the Gaza fighting, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo on Monday and was to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres today.
Hamas, an offshoot of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, is negotiating from a stronger position than four years ago, when Israel launched a three-week war on the militants in Gaza. At that time, Hamas was internationally isolated; now, the Muslim Brotherhood is in power in Egypt and Tunisia, and Hamas is also getting political support from Qatar and Turkey.
President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have blamed Hamas for the latest outbreak of fighting, saying Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks. However, they also warned Israel against sending ground troops into Gaza.
The two sides have observed informal cease-fires over the years, interrupted by flare-ups of violence.
Hamas has fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel since the start of the latest offensive on Wednesday, kicked off by Israel's assassination of the Hamas military chief.
Of the 95 rockets fired Monday, 29 of them were intercepted by Israel's U.S.-financed Iron Dome anti-missile battery, officials said.
In Gaza, an Israeli airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City killed Ramez Harb, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al Quds Brigades, the group said.
A number of foreign and local news organizations have offices in the building, which was also struck on Sunday. A passer-by, a carpenter from Gaza's tiny Christian community, was also killed, medics said.
And in central Gaza, four militants were killed in two separate strikes.
In the West Bank, Palestinian stone throwers protesting against Israel's Gaza campaign clashed with Israeli soldiers in several locations Monday. In the city of Hebron, a 22-year-old man was killed by army fire and three other protesters were injured, doctors said.
The army said soldiers opened fire after a masked man approached them and failed to stop.