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A death row inmate being executed in Arizona took nearly two hours to die, prison officials said, in the latest controversy to hit America's lethal injection regime. The attorney representing Joseph Wood, convicted in 1989 of the murders of his girlfriend and her father, said his client died an agonizing death after being injected with a cocktail of medications that were supposed to quietly snuff out his life. "It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and forty minutes," attorney Dale Baich said after the execution in the southwestern US state. Wood finally died at 3:49 pm local time (2249 GMT) -- almost two hours after officials began injecting him with drugs that should have taken his life in a matter of minutes, prison officials said.
Washington's top diplomat said global efforts to end 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza were progressing as the Palestinian death toll rose to 718 Thursday and airlines kept flights to Israel suspended over rocket fears. The Islamist Hamas movement rejected any truce without the lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on Gaza. "We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices," Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said. Hamas hailed the suspension of Tel Aviv flights by many world airlines as a "great victory."