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Secretary of State Clinton in Israel on eve of recent ceasefire declaration

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as there were talks of a ceasefire, which would theoretically end a week of fighting around the Gaza Strip. An actual ceasefire remains hazy and undefined at the moment. Hostilities content to flare on the border between Israel and Gaza, and a time and day for the cessation of missile strikes remains undefined.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip has revised a statement that a truce would start overnight. Hamas says it was still waiting for an Israeli response to proposals and did not now expect an announcement until later this week.

Egypt, with its fledgling government has been playing peace broker in Cairo between Israel and Hamas, had officially said that a ceasefire could begin on Tuesday. Israeli officials continue to say that discussions were still continuing.

In the meantime, Israel pressed on with its strikes in the coastal enclave for the seventh day of its offensive. Palestinian rockets still flashed across the border as Clinton arrived in Jerusalem.

Israel launched its retaliatory campaign last week with the declared aim of halting the rocketing of its towns from the Gaza Strip. Medical officials in Gaza said 27 Palestinians have been killed. An Israeli soldier and a civilian died when rockets exploded near the Gaza frontier, police and the army said.

Gaza medical officials say 134 people have died in Israeli strikes, mostly civilians, including 34 children. In all, five Israelis have died, including three civilians killed last week.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier that Israel was open to a long-term deal aimed at ending Palestinian rocket attacks that have plagued its southern region for years.

Both Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama have said they want a diplomatic solution. None really desire a possible Israeli ground operation in the densely populated territory, home to 1.7 million Palestinians.

Israel's military has targeted more than 130 sites in Gaza, including ammunition stores and the Gaza headquarters of the National Islamic Bank. Israeli police said more than 150 rockets were fired from Gaza by the evening.

"No country would tolerate rocket attacks against its cities and against its civilians. Israel cannot tolerate such attacks," Netanyahu said with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Jerusalem from talks in Cairo.

"If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means, then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution," he said. "But if stronger military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel will do what is necessary to defend our people."

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