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Israel Continues Assault on Gaza as Hope Grows for  Cease-Fire


Israel has been pounding targets in Gaza for nearly two weeks, aiming to destroy the militant Islamic group Hamas' ability to launch rockets at its territory. As both sides study a ceasefire proposal, Israel has committed to stopping its attacks for a few hours each day and allow humanitarian shipments of food and fuel into the Gaza Strip.

Frequently each day, smoke rises over Gaza City. A view from a hilltop overlooking the area has been a daily scene as Israel continues its assault on Hamas targets.

Hamas militants in Gaza have not stopped firing rockets into Israel.

A Kassam rocket exploded just a few meters from a vantage point where foreign journalists -- whom Israel is not allowing into Gaza -- catch a view of the fighting.

It is Hamas' firing of these rockets that has triggered Israel's attacks on Gaza. Israeli officials say their goal is clear.

"The goal of this operation is to stop the launching of rockets upon Israeli civilians and to make sure that the Hamas organization, which is a terrorist organization, will not be able to get any more rockets, Yaakov Livne said. Livne is Foreign Ministry spokesman. "And also to make sure that they will not have the will to act against Israeli civilians."

One woman, like other Israelis in the town of Sderot, has been living with the terror of rockets from Gaza for years. She says, "My husband is sick. He is bedridden. We have nowhere to go. We cannot move. Where will we go? If, God forbid, a Kassam falls and our house goes, we go with it," she said.

The assault on Gaza has brought residents of Sderot hope that the rocket attacks will stop.

But on the Gaza side of the border, Palestinian civilian casualties are mounting as the Israeli offensive against Hamas continues. On Tuesday, Israeli shelling killed some 40 Palestinians at a UN-run school.

Meanwhile, a humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza as supplies of food, fuel, and medicines dwindle.

For the past few days, Israel has been allowing truckloads of supplies, including disinfectants and food, donated by a number of countries, past a checkpoint near the Egyptian border.

The people of Israel and of Gaza hope more lasting relief, in the form of peace, is on the way.

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