Updated 12/31 6:55 PM EST
As the aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip moves into its fifth day, the death toll has now crossed the 400 mark. The number is doubtless to rise further as an unknown number remain buried under the rubble in the densely populated strip.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has described the air campaign against the strip as the first in a “series of phases” of operations approved in the security cabinet meeting last week. With thousands of Israeli reservists already called up for the planned ground invasion, and the government looking to call up thousands more, the growing mass of Israeli forces along the border are an unpleasant reminder to the Gazan population that the worst of this war may be yet to come.
One ray of hope, however dim, is the emerging report tonight that the Israeli government is now considering a 48-hour truce despite previous reports that it dismissed it. The so-called humanitarian truce, if approved, will provide only a short respite to the people of Gaza however, as a spokesman for Defense Minister Ehud Barak says it will be used to allow time for further preparation for the ground invasion. Still, with the toll rising and Israeli officials speaking of several more weeks of war, a brief truce to bury their dead is about all the Gazan population has to look forward to.