Reported differences of opinion between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the military leadership have led to the suspension of a planned land offensive in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to local media. Olmert is said to have rejected a proposal by the general staff to launch a major operation in the Beit Hanun area that would put an end to rocket attacks on Israel.
Media said a probably high level of Palestinian civilian casualties was the reason for his decision.
The suspension will also give more time for negotiations to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier seized last Sunday during a Palestinian attack.
Two other soldiers were killed in the attack.
The present crisis is being seen as the first major test for Olmert who, unlike his predecessor Ariel Sharon, does not have a prestigious military record.