As ceasefire talks continued into the night, so too did Israel's bombing offensive against the civilians of the Gaza Strip. Casualties increased inexorably throughout Tuesday and overnight; the figures now stand at 138 killed, including at least 27 children, and almost 1,100 wounded by Israeli bombs and missiles.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said on Tuesday that he expected the Israeli aggression against the people of Gaza to end yesterday as senior Palestinian and Israeli officials were reported as saying that a ceasefire was "imminent". However, Haaretz newspaper claimed that a disagreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak over the terms of a truce was the reason for the delay. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the region for talks in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, said that a ceasefire could be reached "within days".
On the ground, however, there was no sign of this happening, as the scale of Israeli attacks against civilian targets increased. Israel claims that it only attacks "terrorists and terror hubs", but the evidence tells another story, with civil government buildings, homes and businesses being targeted. The number of women and children among the casualties are "regretted"; in the grotesque language of the military they are "collateral damage".
A civil service compound was flattened by missiles during the night, while another attack targeted a business block containing the offices of foreign news agencies, including AFP. At least 30 homes were destroyed, with 50 others being damaged. Hundreds of families sought refuge in UNRWA schools.
Two cars were hit by Israeli missiles. In one, Al-Aqsa TV cameramen were burnt to death. The other car was a privately-owned vehicle; five members of the same family were killed and seven bystanders were wounded. None had any connection to resistance groups.
On Wednesday morning, five civilians were killed in a series of Israeli air strikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad