Israel Rejects 48-Hour Cease-Fire
After five days of almost constant aerial attacks and the deaths of nearly 400 Palestinians, the Israeli government has refused a 48-hour cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, arguing that it needs to “keep up the pressure on Hamas” — a startling euphemism for its lethal assaults — as the Israeli military ramps up for a likely ground invasion.
The New York Times:
After five straight days of punishing air attacks, Israel rejected a proposal for a 48-hour cease-fire in its military onslaught in Gaza on Wednesday, saying it would maintain pressure on Hamas. But it did not rule out future diplomacy and was open to ways of increasing humanitarian aid.
The decision was announced after a security cabinet meeting here.
The Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued on Wednesday, and at least 20 more rockets were fired by Hamas militants in reprisal into southern Israel, including three that landed in the city of Beersheba. Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said earlier that the country’s leaders “view it as important to keep up the pressure on Hamas.”
“We cannot give them a respite to rearm and regroup,” he said. “We need a real, sustainable solution, not a Band-Aid.” But he added that Israel would still explore ways to expedite humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and would also explore a broader diplomatic effort to achieve a lasting cease-fire.