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Last Updated: Thursday January 08 2009 07:34 GMT

Hopes Gaza fighting will end soon

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BBC journalist Christian Fraser on Middle East violence

The fighting in the Middle East may be close to ending after Israel said it could be ready to accept a peace plan.

For 13 days Israel has been dropping bombs on a place called the Gaza Strip, because it wants to stop rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza.

Gaza is controlled by an armed group called Hamas, and their supporters have been firing rockets into Israel.

Now it seems the fighting could end, but only if both sides agree that certain things will happen.

Some of the key points in the peace plan are:

  • Rockets will no longer be fired from Gaza into Israel
  • Tunnels used to move weapons into Gaza from other countries will be closed
  • Borders between Gaza and other countries - which Israel control - will be opened, to let food, medicine and other aid into the area

A senior Israeli official is due to go to Cairo, in Egypt, on Thursday to hear details of a ceasefire plan that's been created by Egypt and France.

It's hoped representatives from Hamas will also go along, although they're not expected to have face-to-face talks with the Israeli officials.

Stop fighting

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How much can be done in three hours? A Unicef expert explains to Sonali.

On Wednesday, the fighting stopped for three hours, for the first time since the latest violence began, to let some help get into Gaza. Israel says it will pause its military action for three hours every day.

Journalists working in Gaza say people living there used the time to get food, medicine and visit relatives in hospital.

The United Nations has been trying to get the two sides to stop the fighting.

It wants Hamas to stop firing rockets and Israel to take its soldiers out of Gaza and to stop dropping bombs there.

Conflict

Israel says the military action is needed to protect its people and stop the rocket attacks by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

A map showing Israel and Gaza
Since the latest conflict began, almost 700 Palestinians are believed to have died, with Palestinian officials saying that includes at least 195 children.

Seven Israeli soldiers have also died during the fighting, and at least four people in Israel have been killed by the rockets.

Why fight?

The fighting is all to do with who has the right to live where and it's a problem that's been causing trouble in this part of the world for years.

Lots of Palestinians live in Gaza, which is a tiny strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and Israel.

But Israel gets to decide who and what comes and goes from these areas, and Palestinians want them to give up that control.



Middle East

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