Jan 7 (Reuters) - Hundreds of embattled Palestinians ventured outside to shop for food on Wednesday during a three-hour Gaza truce, a first step towards an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire under discussion by Israel and Hamas.
Here is a timeline of events since early December:
Dec. 14 - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal says the group will not renew a six-month-old truce with Israel.
Dec. 18 - Hamas declares the end of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which expires the next day with a surge of cross-border fighting.
Dec. 24 - Gaza Palestinian militants ratchet up rocket fire towards Israel.
Dec. 27 - Israel launches massive air strikes on Gaza in response to the intensified rocket and mortar fire, killing at least 229 Palestinians.
Dec. 28 - Israeli air strikes hit a building at the Islamic University and target some 40 smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip that provide a lifeline to the outside world.
Dec. 29 - Israel bombs the Hamas-run Interior Ministry and declares areas around the Gaza Strip a "closed military zone". Palestinian militants fire rockets deeper into southern Israel.
Dec. 30 - Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum urges Palestinian groups to respond using "all available means" against Israel. Israel says its attacks herald "long weeks of military action".
Dec. 31 - Emergency session of U.N. Security Council to consider resolution drafted by Arab countries calling for immediate ceasefire adjourns without a vote.
Jan. 1 - Israel kills Nizar Rayyan, a hardline Hamas leader, in an air attack on his Gaza Strip home.
Jan. 2 - Palestinian official says that Egypt began exploratory talks with Hamas to halt the bloodshed.
Jan. 3 - Israel launches ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, sending tanks and infantry into battle with Hamas fighters. Israel says calls up tens of thousands of reservists.
Jan. 4 - Israelis cut the strip in half from the border fence to the Mediterranean. Troops and armour ring Gaza City. Israel rejects possibility of a ceasefire at this stage.
Jan. 5 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a peace mission to the Middle East, and U.S. President George W. Bush, in his final weeks in office, both appeal for a ceasefire.
Jan. 6 - Israeli shelling kills 42 Palestinians at a U.N. school in the Jabalya refugee camp where civilians had taken shelter; Israeli army say it had fired after gunmen mortared them from the school.
— Egypt, backed by France and other European powers, propose an immediate ceasefire and talks that could address Israeli demands that Hamas be starved of rockets and other weapons smuggled over the Egyptian border.
— Over 30 missiles hit Israel during the day.
Jan. 7 - Violence resumes after a three-hour Gaza truce.
— Israel say it views "positively" talks with Cairo over a wider ceasefire plan promoted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.
— In fresh fighting, 12 Palestinians are killed by Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, medical workers say. At least 15 Hamas rockets hit southern Israel, causing no casualties.
— The total Palestinian death toll reaches 650, medical officials say.