Israel says prefers diplomacy but ready to invade Gaza
(REUTERS) - Israel bombed dozens more targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday and said that, while it was prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire.
Egypt said a deal for a truce could be close, though by late evening there was no end to six days of heavy missile exchanges as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed his next steps with his inner circle of senior ministers.
United States (US) President Barack Obama called Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi, who has been trying to use his influence with Hamas, his fellow Islamists who run Gaza, to broker a halt. Mr Obama "underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire", the White House said.
The leader of Hamas, speaking in Cairo, said it was up to Israel to end a new conflict that he said it had started. Israel, which assassinated a Hamas military chief on Wednesday, says its air strikes are to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.