Senior Militant Killed by Israel in Gaza

Israeli military planes bombarded over 30 homes on Friday in the Gaza Strip. The bombing resulted in the killing of a leader of Islamic Jihad the militant group as well as two sons of his.

The Security Cabinet in Israel meets late on Friday to decide if they will expand the military operation or consider a possible ceasefire.

Ground troops from Israel and gunmen from Hamas fought two intense battles in the center and north of Gaza, said Palestinian officials Friday.

The military in Israel said it struck 45 sites across Gaza including a military command post of Hamas, while the militants in Gaza continued sending rockets at Israel with one crashing into a vacant home.

The fighting has gone on for 18 days and the Security Cabinet meets in Israel to consider proposals from the international community for a ceasefire, said a defense official in Israel.

One of the plans calls for a humanitarian truce of five days during which time Hamas and Israel would negotiate new arrangement for the borders for the blockaded Gaza, said a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organization, who is working on the efforts to bring about a ceasefire.

Hamas said it would not stop firing without guarantees from the international community that Israel and Egypt would open the border crossing in Gaza and end their blockade of seven years.

Egypt and Israel are reluctant about easing the current blockade fearing that would allow Hamas to tighten its grip in Gaza.

Media in Israel have reported that their military wants additional time to destroy tunnels and rocket sites.

The military said 31 tunnels used by Hamas to launch attacks have been found, but only about one third have been destroyed.

More than 65,000 military reserves have been mobilized by Israel during the 18 days of fighting.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, thousands of security forces from Israel have been deployed due to possible protests by Palestinians following prayers on Friday at an important holy site for Muslims.

On Thursday night, thousands of protesters who were protesting the fighting in Gaza clashed with soldiers from the Israel military in one of the largest Palestinian protests in many years.

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