Israel Grants 3-Hour Reprieve

Mulls international ceasefire
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 7, 2009 6:34 AM CST
Israeli Armored Personal Carriers drive to the Gaza Strip, near Israel's border with Gaza, southern Israel, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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(Newser) – Israel's military paused its Gaza offensive for three hours today to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, and the country's leaders debated whether to accept an international ceasefire plan or expand the assault against Hamas. More than 500 aid trucks have entered Gaza since operations began, but military operations have prevented officials from distributing it, leading to food shortages in some areas.

With criticism rising of the operation's spiraling civilian death toll and Gazans increasingly suffering the effects of nonstop airstrikes and shelling, Israel's military said it opened "humanitarian corridors" to allow aid supplies to reach Palestinians. About 300 of the more than 670 Palestinians killed so far are civilians, according to Palestinian and UN figures; at least 130 are children age 16 and under. The number of armed fighters killed remains unclear. Hamas fighters are known to have begun wearing civilian clothes and the organization is keeping its casualties secret and housing its wounded and dead in undisclosed locations.