Gaza Cease-Fire Only Lasts 3 Hours

January 7, 2009 3:20:07 PM PST
There was a cease-fire in Gaza Wednesday but it lasted only three hours. Israel agreed to stop its bombardment of Hamas long enough to allow humanitarian supplies to civilians. For a few short hours in Gaza both sides stopped shooting cars quickly clogged the streets as people rushed out to get the necessities of life.

With both sides holding their fire it has been a day of global diplomacy trying to get Israel and Hamas from a temporary cease fire to a permanent one. However within minutes of the three-hour cease fire ending Israeli troops restarted their offensive in the northern end of the Gaza strip and two Hamas rockets hit the Israeli town of Beer Shiva. Israel announced that a similar temporary cease fire would be enforced on Friday.

Mark Regev an Israeli government spokesman said, "This is a humanitarian respite designed to help the civilian population of Gaza. Obviously we don't want to see innocent civilians in Gaza suffer."

Israel has come under sharp criticism and increased pressure to end its offensive in Gaza. Today, after a lengthy meeting, Israel's cabinet decided to continue its ground operations. This comes a day after Israeli mortar shells killed at least 42, mostly women and children, at a girl's school being used as UN refuge.

The Israeli military said mortar fire came from the school shortly before its soldiers returned fire. They also said two Hamas fighters were found among the dead.

Witnesses said the school and the area around it were quiet before it was shelled. The U.N. has called for an independent investigation. And officials said Gaza needs more than a three hour cease fire.

John Ging with the U.N Relief and Works Agency in Gaza said, "We need to start with a cease-fire that is for the full day and the full night and let us get back to helping these people. But, we have what we have."

There is a glimmer of hope for something more permanent with discussions in Egypt beginning to show progress.


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