Gaza death toll rises

The death toll has rises to 85 across the Gaza Strip as Israeli, Palestinian violence escalates.

Smoke rises from fire after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on November 19, 2012. Picture: AFP.

GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave dropped off as international efforts to broker a truce intensified.

Ten civilians and two field commanders from the Islamic Jihad faction were killed and at least 30 other Palestinians were hurt in the new air strikes, hospital officials said, bringing the death toll from six days of clashes in Gaza to 85.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Cairo to weigh in on ceasefire efforts led by Egypt, which borders both Israel and Gaza and whose Islamist-rooted government has been hosting leaders of Hamas.

Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had also been to Cairo for truce talks, though a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government declined comment on the matter.

The Gaza flare-up, and Israel's signalling that it could soon escalate from the aerial bombings to a ground sweep of the cramped and impoverished enclave, has stoked the worries of world powers watching an already combustible region.

As Hamas and other Islamist factions spurn permanent peace with the Jewish state, mediated deals for each to hold fire unilaterally have been the only formula for stemming bloodshed in the past. But each side now placed the onus on the other.

Izzat Risheq, aide to Hamas politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal, wrote on Facebook that Hamas would enter a truce only after Israel "stops its aggression, ends its policy of targeted assassinations and lifts the blockade of Gaza".

Listing Israel's terms, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon wrote on Twitter: "If there is quiet in the south and no rockets and missiles are fired at Israel's citizens, nor terrorist attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack."

Yaalon also said Israel wanted an end to Gaza guerrilla activity in the neighbouring Egyptian Sinai, a desert peninsula where lawlessness has spread during Cairo's political crises.