Semi-Ceasefire in Gaza

It seems that a piecemeal ceasefire is being imposed on Israel. The pressure mounted at the UN has had an effect:

Israel accepts brief pause in Gaza fighting to allow aid to enter

GAZA: Under international pressure to ease its 12-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Israel briefly suspended its fighting on Wednesday and agreed to do so for three hours each day to permit humanitarian relief goods to reach the beleaguered population.

It was not immediately clear whether the militant Hamas movement, which governs Gaza, had also agreed to the plan, although senior Hamas officials were quoted as saying that it would not fire any rockets while Israel suspended its bombing.

News reports from the Israel-Gaza border area said a string of explosions was heard after Wednesday’s three-hour lull ended.

In Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy, who toured the region earlier this week in a diplomatic drive for a cease-fire, issued a statement welcoming what he called “the acceptance by Israel and the Palestinian Authority” of what he called a “French-Egyptian plan” put forward Tuesday evening by President Hosni Mubarak.

Sarkozy said he was urging the implementation of the plan “as soon as possible for the suffering of the population to stop.” But the status of the proposal was far from clear.

The IHT is being disingenuous here:
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The French announcement came a day after Israeli mortar shells killed as many as 40 Palestinians, among them women and children, outside a United Nations school in Gaza.

Naturally, since this is the MSM, there’s no mention of the fact that the school was targeted because the site was used by the Palestinians for storing and launching their rockets. Hamas chooses its missile-launching locations based on the density of women and children in the immediate vicinity — the more, the better.

Details of the French-Egyptian plan were not immediately made public. According to Reuters, Mark Regev, the spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said: “We welcome the French-Egyptian initiative. We want to see it succeed.”

But, he added, “The talks continue on the basis of that initiative. A sustainable calm in the south will be based upon the total absence of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and an effective arms embargo on Hamas that enjoys international support.”

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip was also quoted by Reuters as saying that the Egyptian proposal was “still under discussion.”

Earlier, Regev spoke about the three-hour lull in attacks on Gaza and said Israel wanted to allow relief corridors to permit a flow of food and other aid to a population said by United Nations officials to be facing a humanitarian crisis.

A statement late Tuesday from Olmert’s office said the pause would “entail opening geographic areas for certain periods of time during which the population would be able to equip itself and receive the assistance.”

Military officials said the Israeli measures would allow Gaza residents to leave their homes to seek medical help and buy food.

International relief agencies have warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is increasingly dire. Three-quarters of the 1.5 million residents are currently without power, and hundreds of thousands are without running water, international agencies have said.

And here’s the punch line:

John Ging, the chief of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said the pause was “not a solution but it’s a first step.”

No kidding.

UNRWA — which is a UN-funded front group for the Palestinians and Hamas — will not be satisfied with anything less than a full ceasefire and withdrawal of troops. The drumbeat of pressure will continue in the UN until Hamas gets what it wants.