Israel rejects humanitarian truce in Gaza

Dec. 31, 2008 at 6:59 AM
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GAZA, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Israel officials said Wednesday its military campaign in Gaza would continue, rejecting a French proposal for a truce for humanitarian reasons.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner proposed a truce that would allow humanitarian aid into the Hamas-controlled Gaza, but an Israeli government spokesman said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his advisers decided to press on with the attacks, CNN reported.

"There is broad international consensus that the residents of the south of Israel must have a real and sustainable solution and not a Band-Aid," spokesman Mark Regev said.

Regev said Israel would work with the international community on humanitarian issues in Gaza. In its fifth day Wednesday, Israel's bombing campaign began in response to the continued rocket and mortar firings by Hamas militants from Gaza into Israel.

Karen AbuZayd, the commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said more than 150 trucks carrying humanitarian aid were permitted to enter Gaza Tuesday, but the humanitarian and medical situations remained dire.

The United Nations called on both sides to end the violence, CNN reported. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chastised Hamas for the rocket fire and Israel for responding with "excessive use of force."

The office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and the Hamas Interior Ministry were among buildings struck in Wednesday's air assault, Israeli military officials told CNN. Officials said the air assault also took out a maze of tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt.

There was no immediate report of casualties from the latest raids. Since the assault began, more than 375 Palestinians have died, Palestinian medical sources said.

Also Wednesday, two medium-range rockets hit the Israeli city of Beersheva, but caused no injuries, officials said.

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