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Questions over "3rd phase" of Israeli offensive

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Questions over "3rd phase" of Israeli offensive

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On the 17th day of the conflict, Israeli soldiers have been fighting fierce gunbattle with Hamas militants as they move deeper into densely populated areas of Gaza.

It remains unclear whether this marks the start of the so-called “third phase” of the conflict, after the initial bombardment and the deployment of regular troops. Prime minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is nearing its goals and that the offensive will continue despite international calls for a ceasefire. In response to growing criticism against its operation, Israel released footage on Sunday allegedly demonstrating its efforts to avoid harming Palestinian civilians. The army claims it shows an Israeli plane apparently tracking a Hamas vehicle and diverting a missile at the last moment to avoid a group of civilians. Further truce talks are scheduled in Egypt today. Israel wants an end of rocket attacks on its territory and the destruction of tunnels used to bring in weapons to Gaza. Hamas says it won’t consider a ceasefire until Israel ends its military operation and lifts its blockade on Gaza.