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Updated: Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:27:49 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Gaza conflict: Israeli cabinet mulls offensive in closed-door meeting



A Palestinian reacts following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza City July 24, 2014. Gazan authorities said Israeli forces shelled a shelter at a U.N.-run school on Thursday, killing at least 15 people as the Palestinian death toll in the conflict climbed over 750 and attempts at a truce remained elusive. The Israeli military said its troops were fighting gunmen from Hamas, which runs Gaza, in the area and that it was investigating the incident. Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv and said its gunmen carried out a lethal ambush on Israeli soldiers in north Gaza. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (© GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY)

A Palestinian reacts following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza City July 24, 2014. Gazan authorities said Israeli forces shelled a shelter at a U.N.-run school on Thursday, killing at least 15 people as the Palestinian death toll in the conflict climbed over 750 and attempts at a truce remained elusive. The Israeli military said its troops were fighting gunmen from Hamas, which runs Gaza, in the area and that it was investigating the incident. Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv and said its gunmen carried out a lethal ambush on Israeli soldiers in north Gaza. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY) - RTR400UW Mohammed Salem/Reuters

An Israeli defence official says the Security Cabinet is meeting to discuss international ceasefire efforts, but also the option of expanding its eight-day-old ground operation in Gaza.

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He spoke on condition of anonymity because Friday's deliberations are taking place behind closed doors. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no immediate comment.

A Palestinian health official says the Gaza death toll has risen to 808, with 115 Palestinians killed on Thursday, in one of the bloodiest days in more than two weeks of fighting. Thirty-four Israelis, including 32 soldiers, and a Thai worker have also been killed.

Israeli police say thousands of security forces have been deployed around Jerusalem's Old City in preparation for possible Palestinian protests after Friday prayers at a key Muslim holy site.

West Bank protests

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian protester and wounded about 200 in confrontations with several thousand people demonstrating in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed troops had used "riot dispersal means" against protesters who threw rocks and firebombs at them and blocked a road with burning tyres.

The scene erupted after allies of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel's war against Hamas militants in Gaza.

Israel Radio said the protest appeared to be the largest since the end of a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.

Israeli troops have killed two other Palestinians this week in smaller confrontations in the West Bank, territory Israel captured along with Gaza in a 1967 war.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said several officers were injured by rocks thrown at them in Jerusalem and that about 20 protesters were arrested.

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