As of press time on Nov. 20, Israel was holding off on a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip as cease-fire negotiations inched forward.
By the seventh day of Operation Pillar of Defense, five Israelis and more than 100 Palestinians had died, with scores more wounded.
Truce talks were complicated by conflicting demands from the two sides. Hamas demanded that Israel stop surgical strikes on Gaza and lift the blockade of the coastal territory, while Israel called for a halt to rocket fire from Gaza on Israel, as well as an end to weapons smuggling from Egypt.
“I prefer a diplomatic solution,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Jerusalem. “I hope we can get one, but if not, we have every right to defend ourselves with other means, and we shall use them.”
Foreign leaders pressed Israel to agree to a cease-fire. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Israel on Nov. 20 to encourage a truce, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected to arrive soon after. She was to meet with Palestinian Authority leaders but no one from Hamas, the daily newspaper Haaretz reported.
Israel called up 75,000 reserve troops in preparation for a ground operation. The tank and infantry units were massed on the Israel-Gaza border. — jta