GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli airstrikes leveled a seven-floor office building and severely damaged a two-story shopping center in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, signaling a new escalation in seven weeks of fighting with Hamas.<br />
The strikes in the southern town of Rafah came just hours after Israel bombed an apartment tower in Gaza City, collapsing the 12-story building with 44 apartments. Around 30 people were wounded in the strikes, but no one was killed, Palestinian officials said.<br />
The targeting of large buildings appears to be part of a new military tactic by Israel. Over the weekend, the army began warning Gaza residents in automated phone calls that it would target buildings harboring "terrorist infrastructure" and that they should stay away.<br />
A senior military official confirmed that Israel has a policy of striking at buildings containing Hamas operational centers or those from which military activities are launched. The official said each strike required prior approval from military lawyers and is carried out only after the local population is warned.<br />
However, he said, there was now a widening of locations that the military can target. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss the matter with reporters.
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