Israel has continued to attack dozens of targets in Gaza, despite agreeing to a daily suspension of hostilities to allow aid deliveries. Military officials said more than 20 rockets had been fired over the border by Hamas-linked militants.
Diplomatic efforts to end the 12 day crisis, which has claimed the lives of almost 700 Palestinians and 11 Israelis, are continuing. The UN Security Council remains divided over Gaza, and has resumed discussions on a peace proposal put forward by Egypt and France. There have been positive indications from both Israel and Hamas – raising hopes that the fighting may soon be over. The ceasefire plan also has the backing of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Of course, we are very much applauding the efforts of a number of states, particularly the effort that President Mubarak has undertaken on behalf of Egypt,” she said. “We are supporting that initiative. I have been in very close discussion with my Arab colleagues, but also with the Israelis, about the importance of moving that initiative forward.” The behind-the-scenes diplomacy continued as Israel halted its military offensive for three hours to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. As aid arrived, many left their homes to buy food and visit the injured in hospital. Hamas says any peace deal must include an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza while Israel says the rocket attacks must stop along with weapons smuggling from Egypt. A senior Israeli defence official is due in Cairo later today to discuss the peace plan. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected there tomorrow.