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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Signaling an escalation of Israel's Gaza operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Monday to be ready for a "prolonged" war. After three weeks of bloodshed, both Israel and Hamas are holding out for bigger gains and a cease-fire remains elusive, despite an appeal by the U.N. Security Council and growing pressure from the United States.
Netanyahu defended the Gaza air and ground offensive, saying in a televised speech Monday that "there is no war more just than this." Israel has said it is defending its citizens against attack from Gaza by hitting Hamas rocket launchers, weapons storage sites and military tunnels. However, there is growing U.S. frustration with the mounting number of Palestinian casualties — at least 1,110 killed and 6,450 wounded since July 8, the vast majority civilians, according to Palestinian health officials. The Israeli military says 52 soldiers have been killed, including four killed Monday in a mortar attack on southern Israel. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai citizen working in Israel also have been killed. "We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children," Netanyahu added.
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