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Israel delays ground invasion of Gaza

 
 
 
 
 
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to Israeli ministers in Jerusalem on November 11, 2012

Israel has delayed a plan to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip for at least a day amid Egyptian-mediated efforts to implement a ceasefire in the coastal sliver, Israeli media report.

In an urgent Sunday night meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Military Affairs Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman discussed how to postpone their pledged ground invasion of Gaza.

The reports came after Netanyahu also held a meeting with Israeli ministers late on Monday and consulted with them about a potential Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, according to Israeli media.

During the meeting, Netanyahu and Barak decided to allow diplomatic efforts to continue and wanted to see a 24- to 48-hour-long ceasefire take place before a full cessation of attacks, sources said.

To that end, Israel is scheduled to send a delegation to Cairo for a meeting on Tuesday.

Israeli radio also reported that the Israeli military had halted its offensives against Gaza two to three hours before Netanyahu’s meeting with the ministers.

On Sunday, Israeli military officials said a ground invasion of Gaza was “definitely” possible.

Egyptian officials believe that Israel needs to show more flexibility so that the ceasefire takes effect.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Cairo to help secure the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire before heading to Jerusalem to meet with Netanyahu and the acting Palestinian Authority Chief, Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas has declared the lifting of Israel’s 2007-present blockade on Gaza and the ending of Tel Aviv’s targeted killings of its leaders as the main demands of the Palestinians for a truce with Tel Aviv.

As many as 110 Palestinians have been killed and more than 900 others injured in intensified Israeli attacks against the coastal sliver since November 14.

The Israeli military said on Monday that it had conducted more than 1,350 aerial and sea attacks against Gaza since the beginning of the escalated aggression.

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