Israeli ministers say they will consider a proposed 48-hour ceasefire offered by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. The ceasefire is designed to allow time for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the struggling civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the architect of Israel’s participation in the six month Gaza truce which ended earlier this month as well as the Israeli attacks on the strip of the past four days which have created around 2,000 casualties, reportedly looks favorably on the temporary halt, though his spokesman Moshe Ronen says the 48-hour truce would be used to prepare for a promised ground invasion.
Hamas spokesman Mushir Masri also reacted favorably to the proposal, saying that Hamas would “study” the ceasefire if Israel agrees to “halt the aggression and the blockade.”
The move is seen as particularly significant from the Israeli side, as just yesterday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the cabinet not to even mention the possibility of a renewed truce. Even if the truce is only 48 hours, it may allow time for humanitarian groups to ship much needed food and medicine to the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million residents, and will allow time for the civilians to dig their relatives both dead and alive from the rubble that was formerly their homes.