Gaza/Jerusalem: Israel on Tuesday pressed on with its air raids on high-rise buildings in Hamas-ruled Gaza killing two Palestinians even as both sides were still considering a new Egyptian ceasefire proposal to end the 50-day war that has left over 2,200 people dead.
A fresh Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to allow for negotiations to build a lasting truce in Gaza was reportedly close to being finalised yesterday, media reports in Cairo said.
But there is little apparent sign of interest in the Egyptian proposal to end the seven weeks of fighting in Gaza which has so far killed 2,137 Palestinians and 68 Israelis.
Israeli warplanes kept up the pressure on Hamas today with a series of air strikes on Gaza City, which killed two and wounded scores, medics and witnesses said.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said an early strike killed two men in a street in the northern Al-Nafaq neighbourhood.
Some time later, warplanes fired on a 16-storey mixed-use complex known as "Little Italy" in the northern Nasser neighbourhood, wounding 25 people, Qudra said.
Witnesses said an F-16 jet fired at least six rockets at the tower block, in which there were 60 apartments and a commercial complex including dozens of shops, completely destroying it.
One witness said residents had fled the building after the Israeli army sent them pre-recorded warning messages.
"The army told them to leave immediately and they all ran out into the street to find shelter," he said.
Shortly afterwards, warplanes fired on the 14-storey Al-Basha building in the western Rimal neighbourhood, causing massive damage and wounding another 15 people, witnesses and medics said.
The targeting of high-rises that began on Sunday is part of a change in military tactics by Israel which has switched to destroying entire buildings instead of precision strikes.
Today's deaths take to 2,137 the number of Palestinians killed since July 8 when the Israeli offensive started aiming to stop rocket fire by Hamas militants from Gaza.
An army spokesman said Israel carried out 15 raids since yesterday evening, while several rockets were fired at Israel early today.
One of the rockets was destroyed by Israel's Iron Dome air defence system in the greater Tel Aviv area.
Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that they fired "a rocket at Haifa and four at the Tel Aviv region" in reprisal for the attacks against the high-rise buildings.
Two rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon late yesterday, an army spokeswoman said.