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Israel bombards Gaza Strip, shoots down Hamas rocket fired at Tel Aviv

  • Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • An Israeli Iron Dome missile is launched near the city of Be'er Sheva, southern Israel, to intercept a rocket fired from Gaza Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Ahikam Seri)

An Israeli Iron Dome missile is launched near the city of Be'er Sheva, southern Israel, to intercept a rocket fired from Gaza Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Ahikam Seri)
  • Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • A Palestinian man walks past a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israel offered to suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday during a brief visit by Egypt's premier there if militants refrain from firing rockets at Israel, an official said, but the Palestinians unleashed a fresh salvo. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)A Palestinian man walks past a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israel offered to suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday during a brief visit by Egypt's premier there if militants refrain from firing rockets at Israel, an official said, but the Palestinians unleashed a fresh salvo. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Israeli police detain a Palestinian demonstrator as scuffles broke out between Israeli troops and Muslim worshippers prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Omer Miron)Israeli police detain a Palestinian demonstrator as scuffles broke out between Israeli troops and Muslim worshippers prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Omer Miron)
  • Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Palestinian child Faris Basyoni in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Basyoni was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his family house, according to relatives. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Palestinian child Faris Basyoni in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Basyoni was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his family house, according to relatives. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Relatives and friends carry the body of Palestinian Uday Nasser during his funeral in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Relatives say Nasser was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his family house. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Relatives and friends carry the body of Palestinian Uday Nasser during his funeral in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Relatives say Nasser was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his family house. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Israeli military reservists arrive at a gathering point in Mishmar Hanegev, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. The Israeli government approved on Thursday the mobilization of up to 30,000 reservists for a possible ground incursion into Gaza.(AP Photo/Ilan Assayag)Israeli military reservists arrive at a gathering point in Mishmar Hanegev, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. The Israeli government approved on Thursday the mobilization of up to 30,000 reservists for a possible ground incursion into Gaza.(AP Photo/Ilan Assayag)
  • A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israel offered to suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday during a brief visit by Egypt's premier there if militants refrain from firing rockets at Israel, an official said, but the Palestinians unleashed a fresh salvo. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israel offered to suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip on Friday during a brief visit by Egypt's premier there if militants refrain from firing rockets at Israel, an official said, but the Palestinians unleashed a fresh salvo. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Israeli soldiers work on their a tanks in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Israeli soldiers work on their a tanks in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli police detain a Palestinian demonstrator as scuffles broke out between Israeli troops and Muslim worshippers prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)Israeli police detain a Palestinian demonstrator as scuffles broke out between Israeli troops and Muslim worshippers prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
  • Israeli police and Muslim worshippers who were prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, scuffle in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean),Israeli police and Muslim worshippers who were prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for prayers, scuffle in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Israeli police was on high alert on Friday to prevent clashes following Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean),
  • An Israeli soldiers throws tear gas at Palestinian protestors, not seen, during a protest against Israel's military operations, in the West Bank village of Beit Omar near Hebron, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. On the third day of an Israeli military operation against the Gaza strip, Israel overnight targeted dozens of sites it said Gaza gunmen were using to fire rockets. The Israeli offensive has not deterred the militants from firing more than 400 rockets aimed at southern Israel since Wednesday, the military said. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)An Israeli soldiers throws tear gas at Palestinian protestors, not seen, during a protest against Israel's military operations, in the West Bank village of Beit Omar near Hebron, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. On the third day of an Israeli military operation against the Gaza strip, Israel overnight targeted dozens of sites it said Gaza gunmen were using to fire rockets. The Israeli offensive has not deterred the militants from firing more than 400 rockets aimed at southern Israel since Wednesday, the military said. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
  • Palestinian women cry during the funeral of Tahrer Salman and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.  According to relatives, the two members of the Salman family were killed after an Israeli airstrike hit the yard of their house. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Palestinian women cry during the funeral of Tahrer Salman and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. According to relatives, the two members of the Salman family were killed after an Israeli airstrike hit the yard of their house. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • Palestinians prepare to bury the bodies of Tahrer Salman and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. According to relatives, the two members of the Salman family were killed after an Israeli airstrike hit the yard of their house. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Palestinians prepare to bury the bodies of Tahrer Salman and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. According to relatives, the two members of the Salman family were killed after an Israeli airstrike hit the yard of their house. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • Palestinian Khaled Tafesh cries outside the morgue of Shifa Hospital before taking the dead body of his 10-month-old infant in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. According to hospital reports, Haneen Tafesh died from wounds of an earlier Israeli strike. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Palestinian Khaled Tafesh cries outside the morgue of Shifa Hospital before taking the dead body of his 10-month-old infant in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. According to hospital reports, Haneen Tafesh died from wounds of an earlier Israeli strike. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • Israeli soldiers run toward Palestinians throwing stones, during clashes in the West Bank village of Al-Jalameh after a march against the Israeli military operations in Gaza strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)Israeli soldiers run toward Palestinians throwing stones, during clashes in the West Bank village of Al-Jalameh after a march against the Israeli military operations in Gaza strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
  • A Palestinian man picks up a binder from the debris after an Israeli air strike on the building of Hamas' Ministry of Interior in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)A Palestinian man picks up a binder from the debris after an Israeli air strike on the building of Hamas' Ministry of Interior in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike on the building of Hamas' Ministry of Interior in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike on the building of Hamas' Ministry of Interior in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Debris in a kitchen of a house after a rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza hit in a community near the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Debris in a kitchen of a house after a rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza hit in a community near the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Smoke rises following an Israeli attack in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)Smoke rises following an Israeli attack in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
  • A Palestinian holds a green Islamic flag during clashes with Israeli troops at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)A Palestinian holds a green Islamic flag during clashes with Israeli troops at the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
  • Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike on a wood factory in east Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • An Israeli woman stands outside a damaged house hit by a rocked fired from the Gaza Strip that hit a house near the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)An Israeli woman stands outside a damaged house hit by a rocked fired from the Gaza Strip that hit a house near the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • An Israeli woman walks through a damaged house hit by a rocked fired from the Gaza Strip the hit a house near the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)An Israeli woman walks through a damaged house hit by a rocked fired from the Gaza Strip the hit a house near the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Palestinians stand on the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas militant Mohammad Abu Shmala, following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)Palestinians stand on the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas militant Mohammad Abu Shmala, following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • ** File ** A Palestinian Hamas militant walks in the rubble of the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)** File ** A Palestinian Hamas militant walks in the rubble of the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • A Palestinian child walks through a damaged mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) A Palestinian child walks through a damaged mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinians inspect the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas militant Mohammad Abu Shmala, following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)Palestinians inspect the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas militant Mohammad Abu Shmala, following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • Palestinian children walk through a damaged mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) Palestinian children walk through a damaged mosque after an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Israeli security forces search for a rocket thought to have been fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Hamas rocket squads targeted Israel's self-declared capital Jerusalem for the first time Friday, along with commercial hub Tel Aviv, showing off their expanded reach with what they said are Gaza-made projectiles being fired for the first time. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)Israeli security forces search for a rocket thought to have been fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Hamas rocket squads targeted Israel's self-declared capital Jerusalem for the first time Friday, along with commercial hub Tel Aviv, showing off their expanded reach with what they said are Gaza-made projectiles being fired for the first time. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
  • Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with about 300 airstrikes Saturday and shot down a Palestinian rocket fired at Tel Aviv, the military said, widening a blistering assault to include the Hamas prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels.

The intensified airstrikes came as Egyptian-led attempts to broker a cease-fire and end Israel's four-day-old Gaza offensive gained momentum. The leaders of Hamas and two key allies, Qatar and Turkey, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials, and the Arab League was holding an emergency meeting.

The White House said President Barack Obama was also in touch with the Egyptian and Turkish leaders. The U.S. has solidly backed Israel so far.

Speaking on Air Force One, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that the White House believes Israel "has the right to defend itself" against attack and that the Israelis will make their own decisions about their "military tactics and operations."

The Israeli attacks, which Gaza officials say left 12 dead, came as Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets toward Israel, including two aimed at the commercial and cultural center of Tel Aviv. Rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week mark the first time Gaza militants have managed to fire rockets toward the cities, raising the stakes in the confrontation.

The widened scope of targets brings the scale of fighting closer to that of the war the two groups waged four years ago. Hamas was badly bruised during that conflict, but has since restocked its arsenal with more and better weapons, and has been under pressure from smaller, more militant groups to prove its commitment to fighting Israel.

In a psychological boost for the Israelis, a sophisticated Israeli rocket-defense system known as "Iron Dome" knocked down one of the rockets headed toward Tel Aviv, eliciting cheers from relieved residents huddled in fear after air raid sirens sounded in the city.

Associated Press video showed a plume of smoke rising from a rocket-defense battery deployed near the city, followed by a burst of light overhead. The smoke trailed the intercepting missile.

Police said a second rocket also targeted Tel Aviv. It was not clear where it landed or whether it was shot down. No injuries were reported. It was the third straight day the city was targeted.

Israel says the Iron Dome system has shot down some 250 incoming rockets, most of them in southern Israel near Gaza.

Saturday's interception was the first time Iron Dome has been deployed in Tel Aviv. The battery was a new upgraded version that was only activated on Saturday, two months ahead of schedule, officials said.

Israel opened the offensive on Wednesday with a surprising airstrike that killed Hamas' military chief, then attacked dozens of rocket launchers and storage sites. It says the offensive is meant to halt months of rocket fire on southern Israel.

While Israel claims to be inflicting heavy damage on Gaza's Hamas rulers, it has failed to slow the rocket fire. In all, 42 Palestinians, including 13 civilians, have been killed, while three Israeli civilians have died.

Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, Israel's southern commander, said Saturday that Hamas had suffered a tough blow.

"Most of their capabilities have been destroyed," he told reporters. Asked whether Israel is ready to send ground troops into Gaza, he said: "Absolutely."

Israel has authorized the call-up of as many as 75,000 reservists ahead of a possible ground operation. Dozens of armored vehicles have massed along the border with Gaza in recent days.

Israeli officials say they have not yet decided whether to send in ground troops, a decision that would almost certainly lead to heavy casualties on both sides.

In Saturday's fighting, Israeli aircraft pounded militants' weapons storage facilities and underground rocket launching sites, and went after rocket squads more aggressively.

Militants, undaunted, have unleashed some 500 rockets against the Jewish state.

Hamas claims that Israeli intelligence is based on a network of collaborators in Gaza. Officials said two Palestinians have been executed by Hamas' military wing for allegedly providing Israel with sensitive information. One man was shot twice in the head. Another body was tossed into a garbage bin with a gunshot wound to the head.

The violence has threatened the Mideast with a new war. At the same time, revolts against entrenched regional regimes have opened up new possibilities for Hamas. Islamists across the Mideast have been strengthened, bringing newfound recognition to Hamas, which had previously been shunned by the international community because of its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

A high-level Tunisian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, drove that point home with a visit to Gaza on Saturday. The foreign minister's first stop was the still-smoldering ruins of the three-story office building of Gaza's prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

"Israel has to understand that there is an international law and it has to respect the international law to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people," Abdessalem told the AP during a tour of Gaza's main hospital. He said his country was doing whatever it can to promote a cease-fire, but did not elaborate.

It was the first official Tunisian visit since Hamas's violent 2007 takeover of the territory. The West Bank is governed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Egypt's prime minister visited Gaza on Friday and a Moroccan delegation was due on Sunday, following a landmark visit by Qatar's leader last month.

Israel had been incrementally expanding its operation beyond military targets but before dawn on Saturday it ramped that up dramatically, hitting Hamas symbols of power.

Israeli defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential decisions, said military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz personally ordered the scope of the airstrikes to be increased.

Haniyeh's three-story office building was flattened by an airstrike that blew out windows in neighboring homes. He was not inside the building at the time.

Another airstrike brought down the three-story home of a Hamas commander in the Jebaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, critically wounding him and injuring other residents of the building, medics said.

Missiles smashed into two small security facilities and the massive Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, setting off a huge blaze that engulfed nearby houses and civilian cars parked outside, the Interior Ministry reported. No one was inside the buildings.

The Interior Ministry said a government compound was also hit while devout Muslims streamed to the area for early morning prayers, although no casualties were reported.

Air attacks knocked out five electricity transformers, cutting off power to more than 400,000 people in southern Gaza, according to the Gaza electricity distribution company. People switched on backup generators for limited electrical supplies.

In southern Gaza, aircraft went after underground tunnels militants use to smuggle in weapons and other contraband from Egypt, residents reported. A huge explosion in the area sent buildings shuddering in the Egyptian city of El-Arish, 45 kilometers (30 miles) away, an Associated Press correspondent there reported.

The Israeli military said more than 950 targets have been struck since the operation began.

On Saturday, more than 120 rockets slammed into Israel, causing damage to houses. About 10 Israelis were injured lightly, among dozens of others wounded since the start of the operation.

Despite the violence, Egyptian-led diplomacy was underway to bring an end to the fighting.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was meeting the leaders of Turkey and Qatar Saturday as well as Hamas leader Khaled Meshal to discuss details of a proposed cease-fire.

The Arab League also met Saturday to consider sending its chief Nabil Elaraby and a team of foreign ministers to Gaza in the coming two days to assess the situation and respond to humanitarian needs there, according to a draft memorandum obtained by the AP.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Saturday that during discussions with Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin late Friday, he suggested that Turkey, Egypt, the United States and Russia help broker a simultaneous cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

"It would be good if we could work on it rapidly to solve the matter within 24 hours, because the death toll is mounting," he said.

___

Goldenberg reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Gaza City, Matthew Daly in Washington and Aya Batrawy in Cairo contributed reporting.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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