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Isarel PM Netanyahu postpones ground operation in Gaza for 24 hours Last Updated : 20 Nov 2012 01:06:08 PM IST
Israel’s prime minister PM has reportedly pushed back by 24 hours an IDF ground invasion into Gaza, to give more time to Egypt's truce efforts.The announcement precedes a series of critical international negotiations pushing for a ceasefire between the two sides.
But seven days of incessant raids took the Palestinian death toll to 111 amid warnings by Hamas that it won't succumb to Israeli conditions.Israel's cabinet met late last night to discuss the latest ceasefire initiatives with Hamas, on the bloodiest day yet of the military offensive when over 30 Palestinians were killed in multiple strikes.As UN chief Ban Ki-moon stepped into the Egypt-led efforts to strike a ceasefire, the Security Council wrangled over an Arab-proposed statement calling for Israel-Hamas hostilities to end, with Russia expressing frustration over the silence on the issue and blaming the US for blocking any action.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon is lobbying in cairo for an immediate ceasefire. Ban is expected to arrive in Jerusalem on Tuesday before traveling into Gaza to assess the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to arrive in Israel for emergency talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. She is also scheduled for talks with Palestinian authority figures, but will not meet with any representatives of Hamas. Washington regards the organization as a terrorist group.
Early this morning, at least four people were injured when F-16 fighter jets hit the Islamic National Bank in Gaza City,which is located in a residential area, Al Jazeera reported.
At a late night cabinet meeting, the Israeli government agreed to briefly hold off sending ground forces into Gaza to see how the ceasefire efforts in Cairo turn out, according to Jerusalem Post.
This makes today's round of talks in Cairo very crucial to the situation and if a tangible solution is not arrived at by the end of the day, Israel would then decide on a ground assault.
While several Western nations have supported Israel's military offensive and its "right to defense", they have warned against launching a ground invasion of Gaza enclave. Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas, the controlling authority of Gaza, said Hamas was aware that Israel is "capable" of an invasion, but warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that such a move would not "be a picnic, but a political disaster".
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