On the 18th day of its offensive against Hamas, Israel says it is tightening its hold on the outskirts of Gaza City.
The army claims it hit 60 targets overnight in what one Israeli official said could be the final days of the military operation. Hamas, however, remains defiant, with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh claiming the group is “approaching victory”. On the diplomatic front, meanwhile, Egypt is pursuing efforts to broker a ceasefire. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is heading to the region for talks with leaders in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria, aimed at ending the bloodshed. Both sides already rejected a Security Council resolution last week calling for a truce. Israel is demanding an end to rocket attacks on its territory and to the weapons flow into Gaza. Hamas says there will be no truce until Israel ends its offensive and its blockade on Gaza.