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Diplomatic efforts towards a ceasefire

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Diplomatic efforts towards a ceasefire

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As a concerted international attempt to secure a ceasefire in Gaza continues, Germany has stepped onto the diplomatic scene in Israel.

Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier has been in Tel Aviv meeting Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak. Barak has for the first time hinted at a possible end to the offensive against Hamas. According to the Israeli media the leaders are divided over whether to take the fighting to a third phase. Barak and Tzipi Livni are apparently opposed to an escalation in the ground war which is favoured by caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel has said all along its objective is to stop the threat of more rockets falling on Israeli towns bordering Gaza. This weekend there were more attacks. In Beersheba, 42 kilometres from the Gaza Strip, visible evidence of the threat. There were no casualties but the timing was significant. The rockets fell just as local people had decided it was safe enough for the children to return to school. The children themselves are not so sure. “I am scared to return to school because there is still the fear of walking from my home to the school and from here back home. But at least the school is safe,” said one girl.