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Rockets Hit Largest Southern Israeli City; Government Rules Out 48-hour Pause

Palestinian rockets landed in Beersheva, the largest city in southern Israeli city and the capital of the Negev region, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The city is about 28 miles from the Gaza border. There were no injuries, but schools have been closed and residents warned to remain in close proximity to shelters. One rocket fell inside an empty kindergarten room. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected a French suggestion of a 48-hour halt in hostilities in order to allow humanitarian goods to be sent into the Gaza Strip, insisting they have already allowed such items to enter. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, though, is said to be in favor of the time-out and the debate will continue when the cabinet reconvenes on Wednesday. Warplanes continued to pound away at the tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with Egypt. One tunnel, which apparently served as a fuel depot, erupted in a huge explosion after being bombed. Other targets included the office of Isma’il Haniyya, the Hamas prime minister. Israel has called up an additional 2,500 reserve soldiers in addition to the 6,500 already activated as the threat of a massive ground-invasion continues to grow.