Israeli air strikes continue over the Gaza Strip even as expectations
for a ceasefire grow. The Israeli security cabinet is due to meet late
Saturday to discuss proposals to end the assault on Gaza.
of Gaza had another night of bombardment. The Israeli military says it
carried out scores of air strikes into the early hours of Saturday. Medical officials in Gaza say nearly 1,200 people have died.
latest victims include two boys who were killed when Israeli tank fire
hit a United Nations school where they and hundreds of other people had
taken refuge in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.
U.N. officials are calling for a war crimes investigation.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Lebanon Saturday as part of a
visit to the region. He has been calling for Israel to declare a
unilateral ceasefire now.
"The number of casualties and
wounded people, destruction in Gaza City has reached an unbearable
point," he said. "I have been urging the parties to stop the fighting.
No more fighting. They must stop the fighting immediately, to establish
The Israeli security Cabinet is due to meet
after the Jewish Sabbath ends on Saturday to discuss a possible
cease-fire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to make an
announcement after the meeting late Saturday.
officials say they are close to reaching the goals of their offensive,
which are to destroy Hamas' ability to fire rockets at civilians in
Israel and to prevent the militant Islamist group from rearming.
has remained defiant. Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in
Lebanon, said that even if Israel declares a unilateral cease-fire, the
group will continue to fight if its demands are not met. He repeated
Hamas' calls on Arab nations to cut ties to Israel.
Israel's discussions about stopping its offensive, the Hamas leader
said he has one basic point to make: All Arab nations that help Israel
with diplomatic efforts will end their leadership roles in the region.
wants a total Israeli pullout from Gaza within a week and a reopening
of all of Gaza's border crossings, including the one with Egypt.
Israel sealed off the Strip in its efforts to stop the flow of weapons into the enclave.
Militants on Saturday continued to fire rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.