Israel: Ground Assault 'on Hold'

UN chief calls for immediate truce

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 20, 2012 3:51 AM CST | Updated Nov 20, 2012 7:37 AM CST

(Newser) – President Obama dispatched Hillary Clinton to the Middle East as Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket fire continued for a seventh day, the AP reports. The secretary of state plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem before meeting Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Egyptian leaders in Cairo, the White House says. Clinton's visit comes amid increasing international pressure for a ceasefire in the conflict that has killed at least 110 Palestinians and three Israelis.

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire, saying an Israeli ground offensive would be a "dangerous escalation," Reuters reports. The US has also warned against a ground assault, though an administration spokesman says the US believes "Israel will make its own decisions about the military operations and decisions that it undertakes."
  • Israel says plans for a ground offensive are "on hold" to give truce talks with Hamas a chance of success, reports the BBC. "Before deciding on a ground invasion, the prime minister intends to exhaust the diplomatic move in order to see if a long-term ceasefire can be achieved," a senior Israeli official says.
  • Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told reporters that since Israel began hostilities with the assassination of military chief Ahmed Jabari last week, it must be the first to end military operations, the Guardian reports. "A ground invasion will not be a walk in the park," he warned. "We don't have the same military and deterrence capabilities but we have deterred them with our will. Our enemy is drowning in the blood of children."
  • Two more Palestinian rockets landed amidst settlements just south of Jerusalem today, setting off warning sirens in the capital, the Jerusalem Post reports. One hit in an open area of a Palestinian village there, though so far no damage or injuries have been reported.
  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said that Israel's "aggression" would end today, predicting that negotiations would yield "positive results" in the next few hours, the AP reports.

Palestinians gather near a destroyed building after an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia, north Gaza today.
Palestinians gather near a destroyed building after an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia, north Gaza today.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Israeli soldiers hold up ammunition as they stand on top of a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border this morning.
Israeli soldiers hold up ammunition as they stand on top of a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border this morning.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli soldier stands on a tank at a staging area near the Gaza border this morning.
An Israeli soldier stands on a tank at a staging area near the Gaza border this morning.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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