Cease-fire efforts under way as Gaza conflict simmers
Israel seeks US help on Gaza weapons smuggling, while Arab nations remain divided over a truce.
JERUSALEM and TEL AVIV
Efforts to bring about a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas continued on Friday while hostilities boiled at a somewhat lower temperature than they have in recent days and the war ground into its third week.Skip to next paragraph
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Six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza Friday, during what Israeli officials said might be the final stages of the military operation. Five Israelis were injured by rockets launched by Hamas guerillas in Gaza – two were wounded when a rocket hit the southern coastal city of Ashdod and another three were hurt by two rockets that struck the southern town of Kiryat Gat.
Around the West Bank, protests in several cities turned into minor clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli troops.
The slower burn on Friday evinced a mix of exhaustion with fighting and increased efforts to reach a cease-fire in the coming days.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Washington Friday to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Ms. Livni wants US help to be included as part of any cease-fire deal. US officials say Israel is looking for US intelligence, at a minimum, to assist in stopping the smuggling of rockets and other weapons into Gaza.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, has stayed in the region to press for a cease-fire, which he said he hoped to reach over the next two days. But he urged both sides to stop firing immediately.
Mr. Ban expressed outrage a day earlier when Israel hit a major UN compound that gives food assistance to Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip, 70 percent of whom are dependent on such aid. Israel's defense minister apologized for the incident, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israeli troops had been fired at from the building.