Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will unilaterally halt its 22-day offensive against Hamas at midnight GMT but keep troops on the ground in Gaza for the time being. (Up to 96 hours)Four of them were killed by "Friendly Fire". And what's the point of all this brutality? Rockets still are raining on southern Israel. No triumphalism, fellas. If anything, this bloody three weeks has strengthened Hamas. And brought world opinion against Israel for the use of phosphorous in crowded urban areas. Hey, there are three hours before the deadline looms, so the killing continues.
Government leaders voted to stop the assault during an emergency security meeting Saturday. Shortly before the meeting began, Hamas vowed to keep fighting until Israel pulled its forces out of Gaza.
More than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. [And more than 5000 wounded.]At least 13 Israelis have also died.
Says the BBC:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has offered British naval resources to help monitor events in the Gaza conflict and stop weapons being smuggled in.He wants to help ensure protection and monitoring of the crossings into Gaza.
Mr Brown said: "We will do everything we can to prevent the arms trading at the root of the problems."
Israeli is to unilaterally halt offensive military activities in the Gaza Strip three weeks after operations began, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.
Mr Olmert's announcement came in a televised address following a late-night cabinet meeting.
He said Israel's operation in Gaza had fully achieved its aims, with Hamas badly damaged militarily and in terms of infrastructure.
Earlier, a Hamas spokesman said it would fight until its demands were met, including an Israeli withdrawal.
Mr Brown said he had been involved in talks with Mr Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
"Germany, France and Great Britain have just sent a letter to Israel and Egypt to say they will do everything we can to prevent arms trafficking," he said."We're prepared to help move children, to take them out of the area so they can be treated elsewhere.
"We're also determined that we do everything in our power to deal with unexploded bombs so that people feel more secure in the Gaza area."
He promised that Britain would be increasing its humanitarian aid over the next five years.
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox criticised the prime minister's offer of naval resources, saying he "must stop grandstanding and committing our already over-stretched forces to more and more missions while reducing their resources".
Mr Brown is considering an invitation to attend an international summit on Sunday in Egypt about the conflict.
Staged at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, it will be co-chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.
The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says 1,193 people have been killed so far, including 410 children and 108 women, since the conflict began on 27 December.There were 5,300 people wounded, including 1,600 children, the ministry said.
Thirteen Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed during the campaign.