GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hundreds of Palestinian families, their children crying, fled Wednesday as Israel intensified airstrikes on Hamas targets, including homes of the movement's leaders, after failed Egyptian cease-fire efforts. Before the renewed bombardment, Israel had told tens of thousands of residents of border areas to evacuate their neighborhoods.
The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with some 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. On the Israeli side, one man was killed and several people were wounded since the fighting broke out July 8.
The renewed bombings came a day after Israel initially accepted an Egyptian truce proposal that called for a halt of hostilities. That was to be followed by talks on the terms of a longer-term cease-fire, including easing Gaza's seven-year-old border blockade by Israel and Egypt.
Hamas rejected the plan and instead launched more rockets at Israel. The militant group views a significant easing of the blockade as key to its survival, but does not believe Egypt's current rulers — who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo last year — can be fair brokers.