Israeli security cabinet to respond to UN ceasefire resolution
Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was due to convene his inner security cabinet Friday morning to discuss Israel's response to the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, reported dpa.
The cabinet could decide whether to accept the resolution or expand its Gaza offensive to "phase three" - sending more ground troops deeper into populated areas.
But a senior government official told Israel Radio Friday morning a decision would not necessarily come Friday. Israel's Gaza offensive would end only after its goals of ending rocket attacks at southern Israel now and in the future were achieved, the official said.
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said it was not bound by the Security Council resolution because it was no partner to its discussions.
The offensive meanwhile continued, with the Israeli Air Force pounding dozens more targets throughout the strip overnight. At least nine Palestinians were reported killed, including six members of the family of an activist of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) - his wife, sister-in-law and four children.
Four Israeli soldiers were injured in ground fighting.
The resolution came after days of intense negotiations between Arab member states and the council's Western veto powers, the United States, Britain and France. It passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 14-0.
Only the US abstained, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying Washington "fully supports" the goals, text and objectives of the resolution but abstained because it felt it was important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian efforts to achieve an agreed-on, mediated diplomatic solution.
The carefully worded text calls for an "immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire" as well as for alleviating the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the "sustainable" reopening of Gaza's border crossings.
But it also calls to "prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition" to Gaza via Egypt - a major Israeli concern - as well as for "tangible steps" towards reconciliation between the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions in Gaza and the West Bank.