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Nov
18

Israeli air raids destroy office of Hamas PMGaza—Israel expanded its four-day assault on Gaza on Saturday, broadening its airstrikes from military targets to the civilian political infrastructure, levelling the headquarters here of the Hamas prime minister and striking police and security buildings.

Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel, including a pair intended for the city of Tel Aviv. One landed harmlessly, probably at sea; the other was thwarted in midair by Israel.

In Cairo, the leaders of Hamas, Turkey and Qatar gathered to try to broker a truce. Hamas officials were in indirect contact with Israel through Egyptian intelligence intermediaries, an official of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said.

The talks were reported to be deadlocked on Saturday evening, while continued attacks in Gaza and Israel, and Israeli preparations for a possible ground invasion, suggested that neither side was ready to end the fight.

The air raid that struck the office of the Hamas prime minister, Ismael Haniyeh, came about 4 a.m., reducing the four-story building where weekly cabinet meetings were held to a huge pile of rubble.

Three Palestinian flags that used to hang over the entryway were draped across the dusty mess, with datebooks and personnel records scattered about. Mr. Haniyeh’s gray-bearded face beamed from a page of a Hamas booklet promoting “the government’s achievements despite the obstacles.”

A security official, who asked to be identified only as Abu el Abed, took one of the fallen flags and replanted it upright. “We will rebuild this place as we have rebuilt others,” he said. “Every structure that is demolished or destroyed is a big loss, but the blood of anybody wounded is more important than any structure. This place will be rebuilt and the occupation will go and we will stay.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, said government buildings had been targeted because Hamas “makes no distinction between its terrorist military machine and the government structure.”

“We have seen Hamas consistently using so-called civilian facilities for the purposes of hiding their terrorist military machine, including weapons,” Mr. Regev said.The Israeli military said that it had struck more than 200 targets overnight, including underground rocket launchers and smuggling tunnels in Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border.

The military also said that it struck the police and homeland security headquarters of Hamas, as well as the house of a Hamas commander, Ahmed Randor.

Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing an Iranian-made rocket at Tel Aviv.

Israel appeared to be keeping up the pressure on military targets as well.—Agencies

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