- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

Israeli military presses offensive in Gaza, more than 85 Palestinians killed

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) - The Al Haj family never heard it coming: An Israeli missile smashed into their home in the middle of the night, destroying the structure and killing eight relatives in a matter of seconds. A survivor said all the dead were civilians.

As Israel intensified its bombardment Thursday of the Gaza Strip in an offensive against the Hamas militant group, with more than 900 targets attacked so far, it said it was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties in the crowded urban landscape. The risk of more civilian deaths will remain high, especially if Israel moves in with ground forces.

More than 85 people have been killed, including dozens of civilians, and over 300 wounded since the offensive began Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said.

Undeterred, Hamas militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, including salvos Thursday at the country’s two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that were intercepted by the rocket-defense system known as the Iron Dome.

President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lent his support to Israel’s efforts to defend itself from the rocket fire, but he also urged both Israel and the Palestinians to protect civilians and restore calm. The White House said the U.S. was willing to “facilitate a cessation of hostilities,” potentially along the lines of a 2012 cease-fire that Egypt and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker.

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10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. POSSIBLE IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE EMERGES

A provision to deport minors from Central America more speedily might be included in Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency request.

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APNewsBreak: Military officers’ testimony undermines Benghazi ‘stand down’ theory

WASHINGTON (AP) - The testimony of nine military officers undermines contentions by Republican lawmakers that a “stand-down order” held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

The “stand-down” theory centers on a Special Operations team of four - a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast - who were stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, they were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

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