Palestinian shouts in front of what witnesses said are destroyed tunnels after Israeli air strike (Reuters)
Palestinians in Gaza living under Israeli bombardment remain hopeful that a truce will be reached soon, even though discussions failed to yield a ceasefire on Tuesday night.
Israel has intensified its shelling of Gaza from air and sea, with munitions slamming into the Palestinian territory at a rate of one every 10 minutes at one point.
The death toll on the Palestinian side has now reached 130, according to Gaza health officials.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is holding a second round of talks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defence minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Israeli airstrikes have continued on Wednesday morning, but with less intensity according to Alessandro Romano, an Italian activist for the Palestinian solidarity network in the Gazan northern refugee camp of Jibalya.
"Bombardments this morning were not as massive as Tuesday night, but reports of a truce are fading," he told IBTimes UK. "Yesterday afternoon I witnessed high tension at the Jibalya refugee camp. There were rumours of a ceasefire then dismissed."
Romano reported that thousands of people flocked to the Jibalya camp to seek shelter for the night after IDF jets dropped leaflets urging people to evacuate and move to safer places.
"Despite Israeli leaflets, the population did not leave northern areas and Gaza City," the activist said. "They sought refuge in schools and public buildings."
Shelling also weakened in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, in the city of Khan Younis.
"At this time yesterday there were 11 people killed," Sami Abu Omar, fixer for Italian media and collaborator to various NGOs, told IBTimes UK. "But Tuesday night was terrible. The IDF bombarded from midnight to 4am local time and nobody slept. They targeted 100 targets across Gaza, including the Hamas civil administration compound, which organises visits, passports, construction licences etc..."
Israeli strikes also targeted a Hamas interior ministry office.
"People are waiting for a truce," said Sami. "Everybody expected a truce on Tuesday evening at 9pm, when a press conference was called. But Israel is taking time to bargain with Egypt and ask for some concessions.
"People are afraid of a ground invasion like 2008, when a lot of people were killed and many buildings were shattered into pieces."
Israel claims it targeted tunnels, an underground rocket launcher and a Hamas or "terror operative" in the latest round of strikes against Gaza.
"This morning in #Gaza, the IDF targeted 43 tunnels and an underground rocket launcher. The Israeli Navy also targeted a terror operative," IDF's official twitter account reported.
Hamas and Israel have blamed each other for the stalled negotiations. An official told Israel Radio that "a last-minute delay in the understandings" between the two sides has been holding up the peace plan.
Despite the present impasse, some reports suggest a deal on the Egypt-brokered truce may be struck on Wednesday.
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