Israeli warplanes have continued pounding the southern Gaza town of Rafah as part of their offensive against Hamas. In 18 days of war, more than 900 Palestinians have died, many of them civilians, and graveyards are full in this densely populated territory. Israel admits 13 deaths, ten of them soldiers.On the diplomatic front, Egyptian-led efforts to reach a ceasefire continue in Cairo, where the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected on Wednesday. But Hamas seems determined to reject calls for any truce until Israel ends its offensive and pulls out of Gaza. As for Israel, it will not consider a ceasefire until Hamas ends its rocket attacks over the border, and the flow of weapons into Gaza is stopped. France, the EU, Norway and the Middle East envoy Tony Blair are planning a meeting in Paris on Thursday to discuss further assistance to Palestinian civilians caught up in the conflict.