* Child killed, 15 people injured in pre dawn raids
* Hamas spokesman defiant in televised statement
* Egypt moves to broker ceasefire; Israel threatens invasion
* Israel says if rockets, attacks stop it won't attack
GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Israel bombed Palestinian
militant targets in the Gaza Strip from air and sea for a fifth
straight day on Sunday, preparing for a possible ground invasion
though Egypt saw "some indications" of a truce ahead.
Militant rocket fire into Israel subsided during the night
but resumed in the morning with three rockets fired at the
nearby coastal city of Ashkelon, the Israeli army said.
"As of now we have struck more than 1,000 targets, so Hamas
should do the math over whether it is or isn't worth it to cease
fire," Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, over Twitter.
"If there is quiet in the South and no rockets and missiles
are fired at Israel's citizens nor terrorist attacks engineered
from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack."
Forty-eight Palestinians, about half of them civilians,
including 13 children, have been killed in Israel's raids,
Palestinian officials said. More than 500 rockets fired from
Gaza have hit Israel, killing three people and injuring dozens.
Israel unleashed intensive air strikes on Wednesday, killing
the commander of the Hamas Islamist group that governs Gaza and
spurns peace with the Jewish state. Israel's declared goal is to
deplete Gaza arsenals and press Hamas into stopping cross-border
rocket fire that has plagued Israeli border towns for years.
Air raids continued past midnight into Sunday, with warships
shelling from the sea. A Gaza City media building was hit,
witnesses said, wounding 6 journalists and damaging facilities
belonging to Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV as well as Britain's Sky News.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said the strike had targeted
a rooftop "transmission antenna used by Hamas to carry out
Two other predawn attacks on houses in the Jabalya refugee
camp killed two children and wounded 13 other people, medical
These attacks followed a defiant statement by Hamas military
spokesman Abu Ubaida, who told a news conference: "This round of
confrontation will not be the last against the Zionist enemy and
it is only the beginning."
The masked gunman dressed in military fatigues insisted that
despite Israel's blows Hamas "is still strong enough to destroy
An Israeli attack on Saturday destroyed the house of a Hamas
commander near the Egyptian border.
Casualties there were averted however, because Israel had
fired non-exploding missiles at the building beforehand from a
drone, which the militant's family understood as a warning to
flee, and thus their lives were spared, witnesses said.
Israeli aircraft also bombed Hamas government buildings in
Gaza on Saturday, including the offices of Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh and a police headquarters.
Among those killed in air strikes on Gaza on Saturday were
at least four suspected militants riding motorcycles, and
several civilians including a 30-year-old woman.
ISRAELI SCHOOLS SHUT
Israel said it would keep schools in its south shut on
Sunday as a precaution to avoid casualties from rocket strikes
reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the past few days.
Israel's "Iron Dome" missile interceptor system destroyed in
mid-air a rocket fired by Gaza militants at Tel Aviv on
Saturday, where volleyball games on the beach front came to an
abrupt halt as air-raid sirens sounded.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack on Tel Aviv, the
third against the city since Wednesday. It said it had fired an
Iranian-designed Fajr-5 at the coastal metropolis, some 70 km
(43 miles) north of Gaza.
In the Israeli Mediterranean port of Ashdod, a rocket ripped
into several balconies. Police said five people were hurt.
Israel's operation has drawn Western support for what U.S.
and European leaders have called Israel's right to self-defence,
but there was also a growing number of calls from world leaders
to seek an end to the violence.
British Prime Minister David Cameron "expressed concern over
the risk of the conflict escalating further and the danger of
further civilian casualties on both sides," in a conversation
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a spokesperson
for Cameron said.
London was "putting pressure on both sides to de-escalate,"
the spokesman said, adding that Cameron had urged Netanyahu "to
do everything possible to bring the conflict to an end."
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President
Barack Obama, said the United States would like to see the
conflict resolved through "de-escalation" and diplomacy, but
also believes Israel has a right to self-defense.
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said in Cairo as his
security deputies sought to broker a truce with Hamas leaders,
that "there are some indications that there is a possibility of
a ceasefire soon, but we do not yet have firm guarantees."
Egypt has mediated previous ceasefire deals between Israel
and Hamas, the latest of which unravelled with recent violence.
A Palestinian official told Reuters the truce discussions
would continue in Cairo on Sunday, saying "there is hope," but
it was too early to say whether the efforts would succeed.
In Jerusalem, an Israeli official declined to comment on the
negotiations. Military commanders said Israel was prepared to
fight on to achieve a goal of halting rocket fire from Gaza,
which has plagued Israeli towns since late 2000, when failed
peace talks led to the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising.
Diplomats at the United Nations said Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon is expected to visit Israel and Egypt in the coming week
to push for an end to the fighting.
POSSIBLE GROUND OFFENSIVE
Israel, with tanks and artillery positioned along the
frontier, said it was still weighing a ground offensive.
Israeli cabinet ministers decided on Friday to more than
double the current reserve troop quota set for the Gaza
offensive to 75,000 and around 16,000 reservists have already
been called up.
Asked by reporters whether a ground operation was possible,
Major-General Tal Russo, commander of the Israeli forces on the
Gaza frontier, said: "Definitely."
"We have a plan. ... It will take time. We need to have
patience. It won't be a day or two," he added.
A possible move into the densely populated Gaza Strip and
the risk of major casualties it brings would be a significant
gamble for Netanyahu, favoured to win a January election.
The last Gaza war, a three-week Israeli blitz and invasion
over the New Year of 2008-09, killed 1,400 Palestinians, mostly
civilians. Thirteen Israelis died in the conflict.
But the Gaza conflagration has stirred the pot of a Middle
East already boiling from two years of Arab revolution and a
civil war in Syria that threatens to spread beyond its borders.
One major change has been the election of an Islamist
government in Cairo that is allied with Hamas, potentially
narrowing Israel's manoeuvring room in confronting the
Palestinian group. Israel and Egypt made peace in 1979.