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Israeli air strikes kill twenty one in Gaza Strip

21 Palestinians, including a baby and 2 toddlers, killed as Israel pounds Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery.
None | By Press Trust of India, Gaza City
PUBLISHED ON JUL 27, 2006 12:42 AM IST

Twenty one Palestinians, including a baby and two toddlers, were killed on Wednesday as Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery on the deadliest day in the territory for two weeks.

The bloody violence came one day after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas demanded an immediate ceasefire to Israel's offensive, launched with the twin purposes of retrieving a captured soldier and stopping rocket attacks.

At least 137 Palestinians have now been killed in the four week assault that has been increasingly sidelined as the world focuses on a deadlier conflict in Lebanon, triggered by the capture of two soldiers by Hezbollah militants.

While world diplomats in Rome tried but failed to agree on calls for a ceasefire in Israel's war on the Shiite militant group, 21 Palestinians were killed in multiple Israeli attacks east and north of Gaza City, medics said.

Abbas condemned what he called "unacceptable acts" and charged that "Israel is clearly violating the Geneva convention" in attacking civilian areas.

Only hours before the latest violence flared, Abbas demanded an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories following talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday.

"It is important to end the Gaza crisis," said Rice, adding that "the Palestinian people have lived too long in violence".

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