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Israel to end Gaza attacks without a deal

ISRAEL plans to halt its Gaza offensive without any agreement with Hamas, a senior Israeli official said yesterday. Hamas, however, has vowed to fight on.

"The goal is to announce, subject to cabinet approval, a suspension of military activities because we believe our goals have been attained," the official said.

The security cabinet was due to meet last night after which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would address the nation.

"There is no agreement with Hamas, and it is clear that if Hamas fires against Israeli soldiers or if rocket fire into Israel continues, Israel will reserve the right to act," the official said.

A Hamas official in Beirut said earlier that the militants would fight on until Israel met their demands, mainly for an end to a crippling Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military kept up attacks on the enclave overnight and tank fire killed two small boys sheltering at a United Nations school, a UN official said.

"These two little boys are as innocent, indisputably, as they are dead," John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, said after the school was hit.

The Israeli army was checking the report.

Another Israeli official said he expected the cabinet to declare a unilateral cease fire and reach an agreement with Egypt on increased security along the Gaza-Egyptian border.

Hamas negotiators were due to meet Egyptian officials in Cairo to discuss Israel's response to truce terms offered by the Islamist movement, which controls Gaza.

"Either we hear what we have demanded or the result will be the continuation of confrontation on the ground," Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Lebanon, declared in Beirut.


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