NEW: Palestinian official: Israeli forces shelled a school Wednesday, killing 20
1,242 people have died in Gaza; the UN estimates at least 70% are civilian
"Hamas is responsible for all deaths," Netanyahu's spokesman tells CNN
Hamas says truce must include an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza
Hamas and Israel blamed one another for the lack of a cease-fire in a conflict that has left more than 1,200 people dead, raising questions about just what it will take to end the fighting in Gaza.
The violence continued Wednesday morning, when Israeli forces shelled the Abu Hussein School in northern Gaza and killed at least 20 people, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The Israeli military said they are looking into the incident.
International efforts to broker a deal to end the violence failed again Tuesday, with Hamas rejecting a cease-fire proposal put forward by the Palestinian Authority that called for a 24-hour truce that could be extended to 72 hours. Hamas maintains that any deal must include an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said any truce must allow for its protection against tunnels used by Palestinian militants in Gaza to make their way into Israel.
“Hamas is responsible for all deaths on their side and on our side because they are the ones who kept this conflict going,” Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, told CNN.
“People are fighting and people are dying because Hamas said no to a cease-fire.”
Israel is “ready for a period of sustained peace and security” Regev said earlier in the day on CNN. But he asserted that Hamas has consistently rejected truces and an Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire put forth this month.
On Hamas-run television, Mohammed Deif, chief of the group’s military wing, said that “there is no middle ground” regarding a truce until Israel ends its “siege” of Gaza.
“The Israeli enemy will not have security as long as we don’t have security for our people,” he said.
Hamas wants Israel to lift a blockade it began on Gaza in 2007, a move Israel has said was necessary to stop Hamas and other allied militant group from bringing weapons into Gaza. But Israel has been under fire for sealing the borders, with aid groups saying the blockade has cut off basic supplies and created a humanitarian crisis.
Deaths mount as fighting rages
While leaders continued to talk, the lights in Gaza flickered on and off in many homes after its only power plant was hit.
Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli airstrike. But Israel said the power plant was not a target.
At least 40% of Gaza’s fuel had been burned by early Tuesday, according to Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Energy Natural Resources Authority in Gaza. The plant will have to be reconstructed and will not operate as it did for at least a year, he said.
“We cannot supply electricity” for hospitals, sewage treatment or domestic use, he said. “This is a disaster.”
Hamas-run television reported early Tuesday that Israeli strikes hit the Ministry of Finance in western Gaza and the house of Ismail Haniyeh, a senior political leader of Hamas. A radio station run by Hamas was bombed.
At least 1,242 people in Gaza have died and more than 7,000 have been wounded since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said.
The number of militants killed is unclear, but the United Nations estimates that 70% to 80% of the dead are civilians.