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Israel-Hamas fighting continues

Efforts toward cease-fire stall

  • Smoke and a ball of fire are seen after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.  (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Smoke and a ball of fire are seen after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • An Israeli army artillery unit fires shells from near the Israel Gaza Strip border, southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a bunker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)An Israeli army artillery unit fires shells from near the Israel Gaza Strip border, southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a bunker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • A Palestinian man reacts as flames and smoke rise from a smuggling tunnel after an Israeli strike along the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)A Palestinian man reacts as flames and smoke rise from a smuggling tunnel after an Israeli strike along the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
  • A Palestinian walks through rubble of the house of Issam Al Da'slees, top aide of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, after it  was hit by an Israeli air strike in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)A Palestinian walks through rubble of the house of Issam Al Da'slees, top aide of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, after it was hit by an Israeli air strike in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver joint statements in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. A diplomatic push to end Israel's nearly weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip gained momentum Tuesday, with Egypt's president predicting that airstrikes would soon end, the U.S. secretary of state racing to the region and Israel's prime minister saying his country would be a "willing partner" to a cease-fire with the Islamic militant group Hamas.(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver joint statements in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. A diplomatic push to end Israel's nearly weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip gained momentum Tuesday, with Egypt's president predicting that airstrikes would soon end, the U.S. secretary of state racing to the region and Israel's prime minister saying his country would be a "willing partner" to a cease-fire with the Islamic militant group Hamas.(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)
  • Palestinians look a destroyed beach bridge hit overnight in an Israeli air strike on the main beach road in Nuseirat, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)Palestinians look a destroyed beach bridge hit overnight in an Israeli air strike on the main beach road in Nuseirat, central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian man carries the body of Mohammed Ashour, 10, killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, during his funeral, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)A Palestinian man carries the body of Mohammed Ashour, 10, killed the previous day in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, during his funeral, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
  • A Palestinian relative cries during the funeral of Mohammed al-Koumi in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinian journalists in their cars on Tuesday, a Gaza health official and the head of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV said. Israel acknowledged targeting the men, claiming they had ties to militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)A Palestinian relative cries during the funeral of Mohammed al-Koumi in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinian journalists in their cars on Tuesday, a Gaza health official and the head of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV said. Israel acknowledged targeting the men, claiming they had ties to militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, left, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has arrived in Cairo in her diplomatic push to forge a truce between Israel and Gaza rulers of Hamas. Her visit comes hours after a bomb exploded on an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv, wounding several. Clinton is looking to piece together a deal to end Israel's weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip. Clinton said the U.S. "strongly condemns" today's bus bombing, calling it a "terrorist attack." (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, left, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has arrived in Cairo in her diplomatic push to forge a truce between Israel and Gaza rulers of Hamas. Her visit comes hours after a bomb exploded on an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv, wounding several. Clinton is looking to piece together a deal to end Israel's weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip. Clinton said the U.S. "strongly condemns" today's bus bombing, calling it a "terrorist attack." (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)
  • Israeli tanks in a staging area near the Israel Gaza Border in southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Clinton met earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)Israeli tanks in a staging area near the Israel Gaza Border in southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Clinton met earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • A general view of destroyed Hamas government complex known as Abu Khadra after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.  (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)A general view of destroyed Hamas government complex known as Abu Khadra after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walk together following a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Clinton will try on Wednesday to wring an elusive truce deal from Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers after earlier efforts to end more than a week of fighting broke down amid a furious spasm of violence. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walk together following a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Clinton will try on Wednesday to wring an elusive truce deal from Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers after earlier efforts to end more than a week of fighting broke down amid a furious spasm of violence. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
  • Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on smuggling tunnels along the border between Egypt and Rafah southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Eyad Baba)Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on smuggling tunnels along the border between Egypt and Rafah southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.(AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • Smoke rises from the destroyed Hamas government complex known as Abu Khadra in Gaza City, early Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.  Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.  (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)Smoke rises from the destroyed Hamas government complex known as Abu Khadra in Gaza City, early Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, shake hands for photographers following a joint press conference in the West bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. World diplomats continued shuttling between Jerusalem, the West Bank and Cairo on Wednesday, trying to piece together a deal that would satisfy Israeli after a week of fighting and mounting casualties.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, shake hands for photographers following a joint press conference in the West bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. World diplomats continued shuttling between Jerusalem, the West Bank and Cairo on Wednesday, trying to piece together a deal that would satisfy Israeli after a week of fighting and mounting casualties.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
  • An Israeli soldier prays as he sits at an armored personnel carrier at a staging area near the Israel Gaza Strip Border, southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)An Israeli soldier prays as he sits at an armored personnel carrier at a staging area near the Israel Gaza Strip Border, southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the West Bank, trying to help negotiate a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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JERUSALEM — Frantic efforts to reach a cease-fire in the 7-day-old Israel-Gaza conflict appeared stalled late Tuesday, after negotiators throughout the day confidently predicted an imminent truce and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rushed to Israel to appeal for peace.

The fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip continued, as both sides stepped up attacks in a fierce finale before the presumed cease-fire would take hold.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants fired more than 150 rockets at Israel. For the first time since the fighting erupted a week ago, a rocket hit an apartment building in metropolitan Tel Aviv, in the city of Rishon LeZion.

The rocket, packed with nearly 200 pounds of explosives, caused widespread damage, but residents of the building escaped injury by fleeing to special rooms in their apartments that are hardened to protect them from bombs.

World leaders intervene

Foreign leaders converged on the region during the day to press both sides to accept a cease-fire mediated by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

Mrs. Clinton held a late-night meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose government controls the West Bank but has no power in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Netanyahu said Israel would be a "willing partner" to a cease-fire with Hamas.

However, in a reference to Israel's biblical warrior king, he warned: "Our hand is outstretched to those of our neighbors who want to make peace with us, and the other hand is firmly grasping the sword of David."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who also met with Mr. Netanyahu, urged "maximum restraint."

"Further escalation benefits no one," he said.

King Abdullah II of Jordan also called Mr. Netanyahu to urge a cease-fire. Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab nations that have peace treaties with Israel.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers expressed support for the Palestinians after meeting with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

"Turkey is standing by you," he said. "Our demand is clear. Israel should end its aggression immediately and lift the inhumane blockade imposed on Gaza."

Cease-fire confusion

Throughout the day, Mr. Morsi and Gaza militants predicted a cease-fire at any moment.

At one point, Mr. Morsi declared, "The farce of the Israeli aggression will end today, Tuesday, and the efforts to reach a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israelis will produce positive results within a few hours."

Later, Hamas officials meeting in Cairo said the agreement would be announced at 9 p.m. Israel time and would go into effect at midnight.

But 9 p.m. passed without any announcement. Hamas said the delay was caused by Israel's failure to respond to the latest draft cease-fire proposal submitted after three days of indirect negotiations between Israeli and Hamas representatives.

A last-minute hitch, however, apparently raised questions about when, even whether, there would be an agreement.

Arab Affairs commentator Ehud Ya'ari said the agreement, which remains secret, apparently would consist of three parts.

The first is the cease-fire. The second is an agreement under which Egypt would reopen its own border with the Gaza Strip.

The third would allow U.S. and Egyptian inspectors to ensure that no weapons are smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.

Hamas has other demands, including an end to Israel's targeted assassinations of militants and access to Gaza by foreign vessels.

Jerusalem targeted again

For the second time since the shooting started, Hamas fired a rocket in the direction of Jerusalem, but it again fell short. Police said it landed in an open area inside a West Bank Arab village without exploding.

A second shell hit not far away near the largely Arab city of Hebron.

Hamas gunmen also killed six Gaza residents accused of spying for Israel.

Israeli aircraft increased attacks, targeting terrorist commanders. More than 130 people have been killed in Gaza since Nov. 14, when Israel began its retaliation for months of Palestinian bombings of Israeli towns and cities.

Israeli officials say half of those killed were terrorists, but the dead include many women and children.

For the first time, Israel fired artillery into Gaza to strike rocket storage areas, while Israeli navy gunboats shelled targets along the coast.

Twenty-six Palestinians died Tuesday in Israeli raids. Five Israelis have died in the fighting, including a soldier and a civilian contractor killed Tuesday.

Israeli warplanes also dropped leaflets over Gaza, urging residents to seek shelter in Gaza City. The leaflets said the Israeli army "is not targeting any of you and does not want to harm you or your families."

Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli soldiers remain deployed on the border with Gaza, awaiting orders to invade the Palestinian territory or stand down.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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