On the sixth day of Operation Pillar of Cloud, the question exercising Israel's political and military leadership is whether to launch a ground attack and substantially expand the operation, or to strive for a cease-fire. While the intense rocket fire on Israel's southern settlements continues and the Israel Air Force continues to operate in the Gaza Strip, there are talks on a cease-fire arrangement between Israel and Hamas with Egyptian mediation.
Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) reports this morning that the gaps between the demands of Hamas and the terms Israel wants are very wide. Jerusalem has therefore given Hamas an ultimatum that unless a cease-fire is reached within 36 hours, Operation Pillar of Cloud will be expanded.
Overnight, the Israel Air Force attacked some 80 targets in the Gaza Strip, among them rocket launchers, smuggling tunnels, and Hamas government buildings. In the past few hours, the IDF has also taken over Hamas radio broadcasts and issued warnings to Gaza Strip residents to keep away from Hamas installations and not to provide them with a human shield.
The Palestinians report 16 people killed in Israeli attacks overnight, among them three children, and 51 people injured. The Palestinians put their casualties since the start of Operation Pillar of Cloud at 88 dead and some 700 injured.
After a fairly quiet night, eight rockets were fired this morning from the Gaza Strip at Israeli settlements in the western Negev. The IDF reports a 40% drop in the number of rockets fired in Israel yesterday compared with Saturday. The Iron Dome system has intercepted more than 310 rockets since Operation Pillar of Cloud began.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 19, 2012
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