TEL AVIV - Israel will temporarily cease its fire in the Gaza Strip to allow the Palestinians living there to stock up on necessities, as ministers met to consider whether to intensify the Gaza assault, or accept an Egyptian-French truce proposal.
A military spokesman said there was a plan whereby for three hours every day Israel would halt the fire in its offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Israel Radio said the pause would last from 1pm to 4pm. The move comes after acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered a humanitarian corridor be set up in the Strip to allow necessary provisions to reach Palestinians who have been cut off by the fierce fighting.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak ordered goods-crossing points on the Israel-Gaza border to be opened yesterday, and according to Israeli figures, 80 trucks would bring aid to the Strip and about 460000 litres of fuel would be delivered.
Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet met in Tel Aviv to hear a situation report on the Gaza fighting, and to decide whether Israel should intensify its operation and send troops into the densely-populated areas of the Gaza Strip, or whether Israel will accept a ceasefire proposed on Tuesday by Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Olmert told reporters on Tuesday that Israel would not stop its Gaza offensive until rocket attacks on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip were halted, and unless "the weapons-smuggling from the Sinai to Gaza stops completely".
The fighting in the enclave, meanwhile, continued yesterday, with the Israeli air force, navy and artillery striking about 40 targets since midnight, an Israeli military spokesman said. - Sapa-dpa