The Israeli government decided on Wednesday to give more time for the Egyptian effort to mediate a cease-fire with Hamas and not attack the Gaza Strip.

Mark Regev, the spokesman of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehod Olmert, told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the Israeli government will not order any military attacks targeting Gaza for the time being, however the Israeli army will continue to prepare for a wide-scale offensive on Gaza in case truce talks fail.

Meanwhile Israeli army attacks on Gaza today left three Palestinians killed on Wednesday. The Israeli decision was made during a meeting of the diplomatic-security cabinet on the issue of the proposed truce with the Palestinian Islamic resistance group Hamas that controls the Palestinian coastal region.

The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire stipulates that Hamas will halt the fire of homemade shells into Israeli territory, in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip. Israel have set a further two demands; the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and ensuring an end to alleged “arms smuggling” through underground tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza borders.

Shalit was captured from an Israeli military base in the Gaza Strip in June 2006 by Palestinian resistance fighters. The democratically-elected Hamas movement took full control of Gaza in June 2007, amidst factional infighting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon called for Israel to immediately conduct a wide-scale military operation in Gaza in order to finish-off Hamas.

on Wednesday morning, Israeli forces stationed east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired tank shells at Palestinian homes, killing one child, a resistance fighter and wounding two other civilians.

Witnesses said that tanks invaded the area and opened fire at residents’ homes, Hadeil Al Smierri, 9 years old, was killed in the shelling, and two of her family members were wounded. Witnesses added the child was located in her home in the village of Qarara, just east of Khan Younis, when Israeli tank shells ripped through the wall of her home, killing her instantly.

As soon as the tanks attacked resistance fighters clashed with the invading forces, one fighter was killed, the Hamas movement armed wing the Al Qassam brigades named him as Ibraheem Saa’ed.

55 year old Mohamed Assalyiah, 55, was killed his 10 year old granddaughter injured along with two civilians during an Israeli air strike targeting Jabaliya refugee camp located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday midday. Witnesses said that that Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a group of civilians gathered near a local mosque killing Assalyiah.