Israel rejects 48-hour cease-fire call against Gaza militants

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Tel Aviv, Dec.31 (ANI): Israel has rejected an immediate 48-hour cease-fire against Gaza militants.

According to Fox News, the Hamas continues to fire rockets close to the country's heartland, prompting Israel to send warplanes on Wednesday to demolish the smuggling tunnels that serve as the lifeline of the militant outfit.

Gaza officials have put the death toll at 374 since the offensive began on Saturday.

The Hamas says some 200 uniformed Hamas security forces have been killed. The United Nation says at least 60 civilians have died. Four Israelis have been killed by militant rocket fire, including three civilians.

Overnight, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed a 48-hour truce proposal floated by France with his foreign and defense ministers. The meeting ended with a decision to pursue the punishing aerial campaign, defense and political officials said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion's contents were classified.

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally called leaders in the Middle East on Tuesday to press for a durable solution.

The moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is set to meet later Wednesday with Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Jordan to discuss a possible cease-fire. Abbas will also meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II. Both Jordan and Turkey have mediated in the past between Israel and its enemies.

Hamas, whose charter specifically calls for the destruction of Israel, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and many other Western nations. (ANI)

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