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Bin Laden tape calls for holy war in Gaza

Israeli forces launched artillery fire into south Lebanon and went deeper into Gaza.

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Israeli forces fear the attack was instigated by the military wing of Hezbollah, a political organization in Lebanon. But Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the attack, according to Haaretz, an English-language daily in Tel Aviv.

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Israeli officials have expressed concern that militants in Lebanon could try to open a second front in the Gaza campaign in solidarity with Hamas.
A Hezbollah minister in Lebanon's Cabinet denied any involvement by the militant group in the firing of the rockets on Thursday. In 2006, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired almost 4000 rockets at Israel during the Second Lebanon War.

Agence France-Presse reports that the Palestinian death toll from the conflict has risen to at least 940, "including 280 Palestinian children."

A further 4,350 people have been wounded, according to the Palestinian emergency services.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or by rocket attacks since the Jewish state began its offensive.

As fighting mounts, Israel's government is divided over how to proceed, reports Haaretz.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is promoting a week-long "humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip. In contrast, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes the military operation still has not achieved its goals.
Olmert is delaying a meeting with senior ministers in an effort to allow the military operations in Gaza to continue.
On Tuesday, Olmert did not meet with his "troika" - Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, both of whom support a cease-fire. On Wednesday, he will not convene the political-security cabinet to discuss whether the operations should go on.

International criticism has mounted, according to Agence France-Presse.

The offensive -- Israel's deadliest ever against Gaza -- has sparked withering criticism and protests and concern about a humanitarian crisis breaking out in the densely populated territory where half of the population is under 18 years of age.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is due in Cairo to bolster efforts at a cease-fire, reports Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.

Mr Ban said he plans to step up diplomatic efforts to get both sides to adhere to a UN cease-fire resolution calling for an end to Israel's air and ground offensive in Gaza and Hamas' rocketing of southern Israel.
"To both sides, I say: Just stop, now," he said. "Too many people have died. There has been too much civilian suffering. Too many people, Israelis and Palestinians, live in daily fear of their lives."


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