US President Joe Biden told Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expects “significant de-escalation” on Wednesday in the military confrontation with the Palestinians, amid intense efforts to reach a ceasefire. Deafening air strikes and rocket fire once more shook Gaza in the conflict that has, since May 10, claimed 227 Palestinian lives according to the Gaza health ministry and killed 12 people in Israel according to Israeli police. “The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House said after a fourth phone call in a little over a week. Those killed on Wednesday in Gaza included a disabled man, his pregnant wife and their three-year-old child, the health ministry said. As diplomatic efforts intensified to stem the bloodshed, Germany said its top diplomat was heading to Israel for talks on Thursday. Netanyahu earlier Wednesday issued a tough threat against the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas, who Israel says has fired 4,000 rockets at the Jewish state since May 10. “You can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence,” Netanyahu told foreign ambassadors. “But I have to say we don’t rule out anything.” But an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in a separate briefing that Israel was assessing at what stage it may stop its military campaign. “We are looking at when is the right moment for a ceasefire,” said the source. Israel was evaluating whether its objective of degrading Hamas’s capabilities had been achieved, the military source said, and “whether Hamas understands the message” that its rocket barrages towards Israel cannot recur. Israel says its Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts around 90 percent of the projectiles. Warplanes hit Gaza City again in the pre-dawn hours, as the Israeli military kept targeting militant leaders and infrastructure in the crowded enclave which has been under Israeli blockade for nearly 15 years. Gaza mother-of-seven Randa Abu Sultan, 45, recounted how her family crowded into one room to sit out another night of fear. “We’re all terrified by the sound of explosions, missiles and fighter jets,” she said. “My four-year-old son tells me he’s scared that if he falls asleep, he’ll wake up to find us dead.” Diplomatic flurry The United States, a key Israel ally, has repeatedly blocked adoption of a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to hostilities. A UN Security Council meeting broke up without issuing a statement late Tuesday, but France then said it had proposed a resolution calling for a ceasefire, in coordination with Egypt and Jordan. Beijing’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, told reporters his team had heard the French ceasefire proposal and China was “supportive”. But the United States said Wednesday it would not support the proposed resolution, saying it could undermine efforts to de-escalate the crisis. “We’ve been clear and consistent that we are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts underway to bring an end to the violence and that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate,” a US spokesperson at the UN told AFP. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was to meet Israel’s foreign and defence ministers on Thursday and travel to Ramallah to hold talks with the Palestinian premier, his office said. Humanitarian crisis The Hamas rocket barrages have prompted many living in communities near the Gaza border to hide in bomb shelters virtually around the clock. Palestinian rocket fire has killed 12 people in Israel, including one child, one Indian and two Thai nationals, and injured 333, Israeli authorities said. Overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, armed groups fired 50 rockets towards southern Israel, 10 of which fell short and struck inside Gaza, the Israeli military said.