There are no plans to discuss a cease-fire with Hamas, says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told Israeli lawmakers today that "it's not even on the agenda."
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling the burst of deadly attacks between Israel and militants "one of the most critical tests the region has faced in recent years."
Saying the region "can ill-afford another full-blown war," Ban spent much of Wednesday speaking with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, along with Egyptian and U.S. officials, hoping to find a way to de-escalate tensions that have culminated in regular exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes from Israel and Hamas.
Netanyahu said Thursday that he isn't planning to ease Israeli strikes, telling members of his country's parliament that "I am not talking to anybody about a cease-fire right now," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The prime minister's remarks came just before Ban spoke to reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York, where the Security Council was preparing to hold a special meeting to discuss the situation in Israel. That session will include remarks by both the Israeli and Palestinian U.N. ambassadors, according to Reuters.
Israel says its airstrikes have hit hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza amid a barrage of Hamas-fired rockets.
"Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 339 rockets have fallen in Israel and 76 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome," reports the Jerusalem Post, referring to Israel's missile defense system.
Palestinian health ministry officials say more than 80 people have been killed and more than 500 injured by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza during the past few days.
From Gaza, NPR's Emily Harris reports for NPR's Newscast unit:
"Many shops are closed and few cars are on the streets of Gaza City as people stay inside, unsure when or where the next Israeli bomb will hit. Scores of airstrikes continue to boom across Gaza daily.
"Part of the Hamas-run checkpoint for travel to and from Israel was destroyed early Thursday morning, but the border crossing remains open. Officials set up a makeshift desk on the sidewalk a block away, recording passport numbers by hand instead of the computers they normally use."
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