Israel's security cabinet has rejected international proposals for a cease-fire in Israel's military offensive on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli spokesman, Yariv Ovadia told VOA that cabinet ministers have studied several informal cease-fire plans and have decided there were no Hamas officials with whom to negotiate.
An Israeli official quoting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the time is not ripe for a truce, but that the Jewish state will consider one in the future if a cease-fire ensures better security in southern Israel. Israeli war planes continued their assault on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for a fifth-day Wednesday. Missiles hit Hamas government buildings and tunnels used to smuggle food and weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel. Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli air strikes.
The United Nations says at least 62 civilians are among the dead. Four Israelis, three of them civilians, have been killed in Palestinian rocket attacks.
Israel began attacking Hamas targets Saturday to try to stop the rocket attacks, after a six-month cease-fire expired earlier this month.Hamas generally fires short-range rockets into southern Israel. But Israel's Home Front Forces commander, Abraham Ben David says rockets are now hitting targets in the range of 40 to 50 kilometers.Hamas says it will maintain its attacks if Israel does not stop its assault.
The warning came as Israeli troops, tanks and other military vehicles massed along the Israel-Gaza border for a possible ground offensive. Hamas took control of Gaza from the more moderate Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas more than a year ago. Mr. Abbas has appealed for talks with his Hamas rivals to form a united front against what he called Israel's massive aggression in Gaza.