Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Nations, the United States, Egypt, and the Arab League are committed to finding the conditions for a truce between the Palestinians and Israelis, but on the Gaza Strip the Israeli air raids continue, as do the rockets fired by Palestinian militants.
A possible truce, announced for yesterday, did not occur. After a day of intense negotiations yesterday in Cairo, Egypt and Hamas said that the talks will be taken up today at Israel's request, which had delayed its consent.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is in the region to facilitate the cease-fire. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, too, visited Israel yesterday and held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (see photo). Today she will travel to Egypt and the occupied territories. The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, is embarking on a visit to Gaza.
Throughout the night and this morning, the raids and missile launches have continued. The Israeli army said that in the night it hit at least "100 terrorist sites", of which about 50 were "underground launching bases."
Among the targets hit is Hamas' ministry of security building. According to Israel, yesterday at least 162 rockets were launched from Gaza, and more than 800 in the last week. Yesterday, a missile hit a building in Rishon Letzion, injuring two people. The Palestinians have said that five people were killed yesterday, bringing the death toll to 130, including 31 children. Since the conflict began eight days ago, five Israelis have been killed.
The Israeli army also announced that it has struck "a Hamas intelligence operations center", on the seventh floor of a building housing local and foreign newspapers. The offices of France Press and the windows of the Deira Hotel were hit, where many foreign journalists are staying.
Netanyahu declared yesterday that if a diplomatic solution is not found, "Israel will do whatever it deems necessary to defend its people." The State of Israel is ready even for a ground attack. Tens of thousands of troops are massed at the northern border of Gaza and military planes have dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip encouraging the Palestinians to move away from the border.
A survey published two days ago shows that 84% of Israelis support this "Pillar of Defense" operation in Gaza, but only 30% support a ground invasion. A fair number of young people being called up to military service are refusing to go, preferring to be imprisoned rather than to use violence against the Palestinians.
A diplomatic solution is difficult because each of the contenders is setting conditions for the other. Israel wants an the firing of rockets from Gaza to stop, and international efforts to prevent Hamas' from re-arming. Hamas demands that Israel end its targeted killings and the blockade of the Strip.