The BBC is reporting that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called a halt to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza:

Israel had achieved the aims of its operation, Mr Olmert said, and a unilateral Israeli ceasefire would take effect from 0200 (2400 GMT).

Earlier, a Hamas spokesman said it would fight until its demands were met.

. . . .

The Israeli prime minister’s announcement came in a televised address following a late-night cabinet meeting.

Israel’s "goals have been achieved, and even more", Mr Olmert said, with Hamas badly damaged both militarily and in terms of infrastructure.

But the success of the ceasefire depended on Hamas, he said. If militant rocket fire into Israel continued, Israel would return to force, he said.

How Hamas responds remains to be seen.

The group says any ceasefire must involve Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza and an immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade.

Nearly 1,200 Palestinians have been reported killed since Israel began this campaign in late December. Thirteen Israelis have died.

Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine