Gaza Op: Cease-fire or Engagement?

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The United Nations Security Council met Tuesday to discuss the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.

Despite calls for a cease-fire, Israel's war to stop Hamas rocket attacks entered its twelfth day.

While the UN Security Council met to discuss a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said any cease-fire must ensure that Hamas stop its terror attacks against Israel and its weapons smuggling into Gaza.

On the battlefield, Israel expanded its military campaign throughout the Gaza Strip.

Israel said it destroyed at least 10 weapons depots, but Hamas continued firing rockets into southern Israel. Forty rockets hit Israel on Tuesday and more today.

UN officials criticized Israel when 30 Palestinians died during an Israeli attack on a UN school Tuesday. But Israel said Hamas terrorists used the school as a base to fire mortars on Israeli soldiers.

The incident adds pressure on Israel's government to stop its military campaign. But Israeli spokesmen blamed Hamas for using Palestinian civilians in the school as human shields, which is typical of the terror group's strategy.

In spite of Hamas's use of human shields, Israel goes to extraordinary lengths to protect Palestinian civilians.

"Hundreds of thousands of leaflets have been dropped in advance of attacks," IDF (Israel Defense Forces) spokesman Doron Spielman said.

"Can you imagine that? You know the guy you want is in the house. You know he's there. You have to drop [warning] leaflets because his wife and children will read them and leave the area," he said.

"We go to precautions no country would take in order to avoid civilian casualties," Spielman said.

The fighting taking place today in Gaza is urban warfare at its worst.

"Our children are dodging between small alleyways with snipers shooting over children on their way to buy milk," the IDF spokesman said.

"The snipers are waiting for civilians to come in front of them and that's where the engagement is happening -- in small corridors and] densely populated areas," he said.

"Our rules of engagement are so strict that we know if we kill a civilian, it's not [only] a loss of a civilian's life, [but] Hamas celebrates," he said.

"We are engaging these Hamas forces, identifying the people we're dealing with and trying to hit them directly," Spielman said.

Barry Segal, a well-known Israeli Messianic leader, told us how his son, who is now serving in Gaza, reflected on the IDF's rules of engagement.

"We've been trained to go house to house, building by building, to root out terrorists and to get at the individual Hamas terrorist and not target innocent people," Segal quoted his son as saying.

"I think that really gives a picture that oftentimes is not spoken," he said. "I appreciate the compassion in a soldier's heart -- my own son, who is willing to say that," he said.

Nearly two weeks into the Gaza war, Israel is racing between diplomatic efforts and military progress to eliminate the threat of Hamas from its population.

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Chris Mitchell

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