GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The Israeli military says seven soldiers have been killed in a firefight with Gaza militants.<br />
That raises the total Israeli death toll in the two-week conflict to 27, including two civilians. At least 550 Palestinians have been killed.<br />
The military didn't elaborate on the circumstances of the seven deaths on Monday.<br />
Earlier it was reported that two Americans were among the Israeli soldiers killed on Sunday. (See earlier story. Link below.)<br />
Meanwhile, the top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signaled Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel's defense minister pledged to keep fighting "as long as necessary" - raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks.<br />
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were heading to Cairo on Monday to try to end the deadliest conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers in just over five years, as cross-border fighting continued unabated. 11.
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House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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