Palestinians threatened on Saturday to call off peace talks with Israel after 35 Gazans, at least half of them civilians, were killed in violence that escalated sharply during the day. The death toll climbed as IDF troops, backed by tanks and aircraft, went after Palestinian gunmen who fired 44 rockets and mortars on Saturday at southern Israeli communities near Gaza. Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said Palestinian leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, recommended suspending peace talks at a meeting Saturday in the West Bank town of Ramallah. "I think [they] will be suspended," Qureia said. "What is happening in Gaza is a massacre of civilians, women and children, a collective killing, genocide," Qureia added. "We can't bear what the Israelis are doing, and what the Israelis are doing doesn't [give] the peace process any credibility." In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials were meeting to discuss the violence in Gaza and its implications for the talks. Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said as far as Israel was concerned, talks are "based on the understanding that when advancing the peace process with pragmatic (Palestinian) sources, Israel will continue to fight terror that hurts its people." Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leads Israel's peace team.