01/17/2009, 00.00
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Gaza: Israel voting on ceasefire, while deaths continue

This evening in Jerusalem, the government is voting on a unilateral suspension of the attack, on the condition that the launching of rockets cease and that sergeant Gilad Shalit be released. But Hamas says the war will continue. Overnight, a school run by the UN was hit: six dead, including a woman and a child.

Jerusalem AsiaNews/Agencies) - Tel Aviv is preparing to vote on a unilateral ceasefire and international diplomacy is setting the stage for a summit in Sharm El Sheik, while Hamas says it will not stop its armed struggle and the attacks of the Israeli army continue in the Strip. Overnight, a United Nations school was hit in the northern part of the Gaza Strip: six victims have been verified, including a woman and a child.

Today the Israeli government is preparing to vote on an end to the military operations in Gaza, after three weeks of war that have left more than 1,150 dead and more than 5,000 injured among the Palestinians of the Strip. Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, nevertheless expects the immediate resumption of the conflict in case of new attacks by the Islamic fundamentalists: Livni says Israel would suspend a ceasefire if Hamas were to continue firing rockets. The ceasefire is expected to be signed by this evening, and approved tomorrow at an international summit in Sharm El Sheik, presided over by Egypt in the presence of major world leaders and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Hopes for peace have been revived by the diplomatic efforts made by the Egyptian government, which is working to cut off the weaponry channels for Hamas militias. In order to stop the weapons contraband, Cairo is implementing operations aimed at stopping the activity of traffickers at the southern crossing in Rafah, and the use of machinery to dig tunnels.

On the Palestinian side, Hamas rejects any agreement for a ceasefire, and says that it intends to continue the war. The extremist Palestinian movement is offering a year-long truce on the condition of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Strip, and the reopening of all the border crossings. For Israel, the ceasefire is still dependent on the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit, captured by Palestinian militants in June of 2006.

In the meantime, the winds of war continue to blow in Gaza: the Israeli army carried out more than 50 raids in various areas of the Strip between last night and this morning. The objective of the attacks are the tunnels for supplying weaponry, the positions for launching rockets, and the places where it is suspected weapons caches are hidden. A mosque was also hit. Among the buildings bombed during the night was a school run by the UN in the northern part of the Gaza Strip: in the attack against the United Nations building in Beit Lahiya - used as a shelter for refugees - six people died, including a woman and a child; eleven were injured.

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See also
Internally divided, Hamas accepts truce with Israel
Gaza: truce for a week. Israel begins gradual withdrawal of troops
Israel accepts Gaza ceasefire with Hamas
The cease-fire in Gaza holds: Hamas and Israel sing victory
Hamas declares an end to ceasefire with Israel


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