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Israeli troops and Hamas militants entered their third week of battle Saturday in the Gaza Strip, as diplomatic efforts continued in Egypt to try to bring the violence to an end.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Cairo today for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. At a news conference, Mr. Abbas urged acceptance of the measure, calling it the "only mechanism" that can end the bloodshed.
Both Israel and Hamas have dismissed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. But Hamas has sent a delegation to Cairo to discuss the Egyptian proposal. Israeli officials visited Cairo earlier in the week.Airstrikes continue
In Gaza Saturday, the Israeli military carried out more than 40 air strikes overnight, killing at least 15 Hamas fighters. The military said troops also exchanged fire with Palestinian militants on the ground in Gaza. Palestinian medics say a strike by an Israeli tank killed at least eight people in northern Gaza.
Hamas, meanwhile, continued to bombard southern Israel with rockets.
In an interview with The Washington Post
, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni declined to give a timeline for Israel's offensive in Gaza, saying Israel needs to see that it "achieved its goals." She called the battle against Hamas a "fight against terror."
Dismissing the U.N. call for a cease-fire adopted Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will continue its operation as long as rockets are being fired at Israeli civilians.
Hamas leaders also objected to the resolution, stressing that they had not been consulted. The group has vowed not to accept any plan that does not end Israel's blockade of Gaza.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the Israeli prime minister Friday to express his disappointment that the violence is continuing in disregard of the U.N. resolution.Humanitarian crisis deepens
Gaza medical officials say more than 800 Palestinians have died since the conflict began. About half of the dead are women and children. At least 13 Israelis have been killed, including at least nine soldiers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people face shortages of food, medicine, water and power.
U.N. officials say they will resume aid operations for civilians as soon as possible, after receiving assurances from Israel that the security of aid workers will be respected.
The U.N. suspended its aid efforts in Gaza Thursday, citing the danger posed by the Israeli military.