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87 Palestinians killed across Gaza on Sunday

Benjamin Netanyahu says he won’t stop his offensive on Gaza until he believes his people are safe.

The Israeli Prime Minister has accused Hamas of using their own people in Gaza as human shields. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A total of 87 Palestinians have been killed across Gaza today, according to Palestinian emergency services.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he won't stop his offensive on Gaza until he believes his people are safe.

In an interview with CNN Netanyahu also called for an international effort to demilitarise the enclave.

Meanwhile, the Arab league has lashed out at Israel for the death of over 400 Palestinians accusing the Jewish state of "war crimes" and calling for an "immediate stop" to its offensive.

But Netanyahu has accused Hamas of using their own people in Gaza as human shields.

"What choice do we have? We have to protect ourselves. We tried to target the rocketeers, we do. And all civilian casualties are unintended by us, but actually intended by Hamas.

"They want to pile up as many telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. The more dead, the better."

As the number of dead mounted, Israel and Gaza's dominant Hamas movement agreed to a two-hour " humanitarian truce" in that area, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (1130 GMT to 0130 BST), at the request of the Red Cross. Fighting continued elsewhere in Gaza.

The mass casualties in Shejaia, in northeast Gaza, were the heaviest since Israel launched its offensive on the Palestinian territory on 8 July after cross-border rocket strikes by militants intensified.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, accused Israel of carrying out a massacre and declared three days of mourning.

The Israeli military said on Sunday Hamas had deployed rockets and built tunnels and command centres in Shejaia.

"Two days ago, residents of Shejaia received recorded messages to evacuate the area in order to protect their lives," an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

TRUCE EFFORTS

Egypt, Qatar, France and the United Nations, among others, have all been pushing for a diplomatic solution, with little sign of progress.

Qatar was due to host a meeting between Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, a senior Qatari source told Reuters. Ban was due to travel to Kuwait, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan during the week, a UN statement said. The Qatari source said Abbas would also meet Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Western-backed Abbas in April struck a deal with Islamist Hamas that led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government and Israel's pullout from US-brokered peace talks.

Hamas has already rejected one Egyptian-brokered truce, saying any deal must include an end to a blockade of the coastal area and a recommitment to a ceasefire reached after an eight-day war in Gaza in 2012.

Egypt said on Saturday it had no plans to revise its ceasefire proposal. A Hamas source in Doha said the group has no plans to change its conditions for a ceasefire.

Hostilities escalated following the killing last month of three Jewish students that Israel blames on Hamas. Hamas neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

The apparent revenge murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem, for which Israel has charged three Israelis, further fuelled tension.

The Israeli death toll has been kept low due to the rockets' relative inaccuracy, a network of air-raid sirens and shelters and the Iron Dome rocket interceptor's 90 percent success rate.

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