Israel "gives diplomacy chance", postpones invasion decision

GAZA, CAIRO -- Israel has postponed a decision on a ground offensive in Gaza in favor of diplomacy; after a relatively peaceful night attacks resumed on Tuesday by both sides.

Israeli tanks near the border with Gaza (Beta/AP)
Israeli tanks near the border with Gaza (Beta/AP)

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip fired 16 rockets at the town of Beersheba in southern Israel. One hit a bus, but there have been no, reports of casualties.

Israeli missile shield intercepted 13 rockets, while the Israeli army attacked some 100 targets in Gaza overnight.

At the same time, members of the Israeli government in charge of security discussed initiatives for a ceasefire for hours last night.

Meanwhile the number of Palestinian casualties on Monday rose to 111, including 56 civilians. More than 800 people were wounded, including more than 20 children. On the Israeli side, three people were killed and dozens wounded.

Egypt has become the center of diplomatic activity to end the violence. Egyptian intelligence officials met in Cairo with an Israeli envoy and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal separately, reports the AP, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel to discuss the operation in the Gaza Strip.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to resume talks in Cairo, which have entered the key phase. UN Security Council will debate a statement that will call both sides to end attacks. Ban Ki-moon will today meet with the Arab League chief and then travel to Israel.

Although Israel has been amassing troops at the border, sparking fears of a ground offensive, Israeli officials have hinted that any possible invasion of Gaza had been postponed while negotiations continue on a cease-fire.

Hamas wants Israel to cease all attacks on Gaza and lift the blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Israel is believed to be seeking an end to rocket fire and arms smuggling through the tunnels dug under the border with Gaza.