An explosion from an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip is pictured from the Israeli border with Gaza, early morning July 26, 2014, before a cease-fire takes effect. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
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Barack Obama ratcheted up pressure Sunday on Israel to agree to an "immediate, unconditional" cease-fire in Gaza in the hope it will produce movement toward a more durable end to the fighting.The U.S. president made the call in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stressing the need for an immediate and sustainable cease-fire as the Palestinian death toll from Israel's 20-day offensive topped the 1,000 mark, most of them civilians. initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday that it had agreed to hold fire ahead of the holiday marking the end of the month of Ramadan. But as Israel's Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza. Hamas wants to break the seven-year blockade of Gaza and believes the only way to force serious negotiations is to keep fighting.Israel has lost 43 soldiers, while two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel were killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.
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