Israel on Wednesday gave Gaza a brief respite from its daily bombing which has left hundreds dead but the cabinet debated stepping up the war on Hamas despite an Egyptian ceasefire initiative.
Israel, under mounting pressure over the civilian toll, started a daily three hour suspension of its bombing in an area near the Palestinian territory’s main city to let in humanitarian aid.
The government said it was in contact with Egypt and international powers over proposals to halt its military offensive aiming to halt deadly Hamas rocket attacks across the border.
Diplomatic efforts were stepped up after Israeli tank and missile strikes on three UN schools in Gaza on Tuesday left dozens dead.
But the Israeli cabinet debated expanding the military offensive and a senior government official dampened hopes that Israel would soon agree a ceasefire under the Egyptian plan.