Israel ordered a temporary halt to its military operations in Gaza for
several hours Wednesday to allow aid to reach civilians in the territory through
humanitarian corridors. Israel also says it is studying proposals for a
ceasefire in Gaza, but fighting continues in the meantime.
The first test of the humanitarian corridors came
Wednesday when the military said it stopped operations for several hours to
facilitate the flow of aid into Gaza. Officials said they would consider further
such temporary ceasefires in days to come. Hamas also agreed to stop firing
during that time.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the aim is
to allow aid to get to the people of Gaza.
"We have got a situation where
the crossings have been opened and food stuffs and medicines have been entering
Gaza, but because of the difficult combat situation there has been a problem
with distribution and I think the idea of the corridors is to allow for a flow
of both food stuffs and medicines inside the Gaza Strip so they will reach the
people that we want them to reach," he said.
Aid officials welcome the
corridors, but say it can only be a first step.
"A humanitarian corridor,
yes please," said UN spokesman Christopher Gunness. "That's very good, thank you
very much. But we need a ceasefire so people can come and collect the food from
our food distribution centers. A humanitarian corridor, in and of itself, if you
don't have a situation where people can come and collect food, is frankly not
agreement on such humanitarian corridors comes amid growing international
concerns about civilian casualties from Israel's military operations in Gaza and
a day after Israeli forces fired on several U.N. schools in Gaza, in one
instance killing at least 30 people who had taken shelter in the school
Israel launched its military operations 12 days ago in
response, it said, to Hamas militants stepping up rocket attacks against
Medical officials in Gaza estimate that more than 650
Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks and over 2,500 injured, many of
While diplomacy is stepped up, the fighting in Gaza
continues. The Israeli military says its air force struck over 40 targets over
night while ground forces clashed with armed militants and uncovered weapons
caches, smuggling tunnels and stores of explosives. Hamas also continued to fire
rockets into southern Israel.