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Israel will stop its offensive against the Gaza Strip during the Egyptian prime minister’s visit on Friday.

The message for the Palestinians from Cairo has been one of support. In addition to prime minister Hisham Qandil’s visit, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has condemned Israel’s actions, recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv and opened the Rafah border crossing to allow wounded Gazans to be treated.

After three days of Israel’s “Pillar of Defence” operation, 19 Palestinians are dead – 12 of them civilians, including children and a pregnant woman.

There is speculation over a possible Israeli ground offensive in Gaza with reports of a build-up of troops near the border. Israel is calling up thousands of reservists.

Tel Aviv is responding to rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants. The defence minister said Hamas would have to pay the price for targeting Tel Aviv.

The first missile threat on Israel’s commercial capital in 20 years has shaken the country. Two Hamas rockets landed in the area after being launched from Gaza 70 kilometres to the south.

The militant group claims to have fired hundreds of rockets.

Israel says its military offensive against Hamas will continue.

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