News / Middle East

Obama: US Prepared to Negotiate Ceasefire in Mideast

  • Smoke trails are seen as rockets are launched towards Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014.
  • A member of the civil defense reacts after what police said was an Israeli air strike on a house, in Gaza City, July 10, 2014.
  • The mother of Palestinian Hamed Shehab, who medics said was killed in an Israeli air strike that hit a civilian car, mourns during his funeral in Gaza City, July 10, 2014.
  • An Israeli soldier drives an armored personnel carrier to a position near Israel Gaza Border, July 10, 2014.
  • An Israeli soldier sleeps next to a mobile artillery unit outside the central Gaza Strip, July 10, 2014.
  • A woman lies with her baby on the floor of a shopping mall as an air raid siren, warning of incoming rockets, sounds in Tel Aviv, July 10, 2014.
  • Israelis looks at a car damaged by remnants of a long-range rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza after it was shot down by Israel’s "Iron Dome," in Tel Aviv, July 10, 2014.
  • Israelis looks at a site where remnants of a long-range rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza landed after being shot down by Israel’s "Iron Dome," in Tel Aviv, July 10, 2014.
  • Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, July 10, 2014.
  • An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, Irael, July 9, 2014.
  • Palestinians carry the bodies of members of the Kaware family that hospital officials said were killed in an Israeli air strike on their house, during their funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
VOA News

President Barack Obama has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States is prepared to mediate an end to the violence with Palestinians including a return to the 2012 ceasefire.

The president spoke to Netanyahu by telephone Thursday, another deadly day in the Mideast.

The White House says Obama reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas militants. But he said he is concerned the violence could escalate and that all sides must do all they can to protect the lives of civilians.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza, but neither of the warring sides showed any hint of stopping its attacks.

The UN secretary-general told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that Israel and Hamas "must exercise maximum restraint" to end the fighting.

As Israeli warplanes relentlessly attacked hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza for a third day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee that a cease-fire is "not even on the agenda."

Hamas continued to fire rockets at the key Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, although the Jewish state said its Iron Dome missile defense system has knocked down most of them.

Israel has reported no casualties, while Palestinian officials said the death toll in Gaza from the Israeli assault has reached at least 85 militants and civilians, including women and children.

Israel's military said it struck more than 300 targets overnight and has hit at least 750 since Tuesday.

"We are facing long days of fighting and Hamas attempts to surprise Israeli with attacks from the air, sea and land," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Thursday of the offensive. It began after a buildup of violence following the killings of three Jewish students last month and the murder of a Palestinian teen in a suspected revenge attack.

American response


The United States is trying to stem the violence in a way that allows the Jewish state to continue defending itself from Hamas rocket fire, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.


Khan YounisKhan Younis
Khan Younis
Khan Younis

Kerry, in Beijing for a summit with Chinese leaders, said it's a "dangerous moment" for the Mideast.

Hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza since the teens' slayings.

Kerry said no country can accept such rocket attacks, adding that de-escalating the crisis is ultimately in everyone's interests.

Kerry said he has spoken with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to see if there is some way to restore peace.

Hamas attacks

Hamas spokesman Mushir Al Masri vowed the group would keep on fighting and strike at Israel from the land, sea and air.

Rockets from Gaza have struck parts of central and southern Israel, disrupting the lives of people there but so far causing no serious casualties.

The military said Israel's Iron Dome intercepted at least one rocket Thursday over Tel Aviv, Israel's second-largest city, located about 60 kilometers north of Gaza. The system also intercepted another rocket just east of the Palestinian territory.

Overall, Israel's Iron Dome interceptor has shot down some 90 percent of Palestinian rockets during this week's surge of Gaza fighting, up from the 85 percent rate in the previous miniwar of 2012, Israeli and U.S. officials said Thursday.

United Nations emergency session

Ahead of the Security Council meeting, Ban condemned the rocket attacks and called the surge in violence "one of the most critical tests the region has faced in years."

"Gaza is on a knife-edge. The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get beyond anyone’s control," he said. "The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford any other full-blown war."

He condemned the rocket attacks from Gaza and expressed concern about the number of civilians killed by Israeli airstrikes.


Across the Gaza Strip, plumes of smoke and rubble marked the aftermath of Israeli attacks in the most serious outbreak of hostilities between Palestinian militants and Israel's powerful armed forces in two years.

“The Jews say they are fighting Hamas and fighting gunmen, while all the bodies we have seen on television are those of women and children,” said Khaled Ali, 45, a Gaza taxi driver.

Israel accuses Hamas Islamists of deliberately putting innocent Palestinians in harm's way by placing weaponry and gunmen in residential areas.

Netanyahu, in a statement Wednesday, said Hamas was committing "a double war crime. ... It targets Israeli civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians," he said.

The military said the airstrikes have targeted and destroyed tunnel networks, rocket-launching sites and the homes of Hamas commanders.

As the number of victims in Gaza rose, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing, with hospitals in north Sinai placed on standby to receive the wounded, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported, according to the French news agency AFP.

Israeli leaders, who have popular support for the Gaza offensive, have also warned the air offensive could be expanded into a ground invasion of one of the world's most densely populated territories.

About 20,000 reservists have been mobilized, the military said.

Robert Berger contributed to this report from Jerusalem. Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
by: stephen from: spain
July 15, 2014 8:59 PM
The US continues to fund Israel to the tune of billions, illegal movements or annexion of a sovereign state continue. Wheres the justification of sanctions against Russia for Crimea when Israel continues an unbalanced aggressive stance against palastine. Just cut the hypocrisy and stand by your standards. Such double standards its f*cking outrageous

by: Kip McKay from: USA
July 11, 2014 8:25 PM
If I was an Israeli I would be worried. As the years go by the comments in sympathy with the Palestinians to stories like this one steadily increase. Bibi and other Israelis can bravely say they take no notice of world public opinion and will crush the Palestinians as they see fit. And the Hasbarat trolls can continue working the internet. But the simple fact is that at some future tipping point the impact of the views of the US public will outweigh the fears Congress has of the Israeli Lobby. At that point Israel will lose the US Security Council veto and its goose will be cooked.

by: Jade from: California
July 11, 2014 8:10 PM
Why must we "stick our toe in every countr[y's] business" you ask. The US has a vested interest in Israel's current events and dilemmas. You are deluding yourself if you think that Iran's dealings will not affect the US directly. Until then, however, you can keep living in your world of denial, while Israel fights in our stead as well. By the way the initial brackets were to correct a grammatical error on the previous post.

by: anam from: Indonesia
July 11, 2014 7:50 AM
Nothing is impossible that True is true

by: nuur from: south africa
July 11, 2014 7:37 AM
This is really sad. The Israelis have forcefuly taken over the land and gave the Palestinians nothing. Why do you think the Palestinians are so angry. Israel must give back the land and stop all this.

by: ismial parker from: South africa
July 11, 2014 3:46 AM
This is really sad. The Israelis have forcefuly taken over the land and gave the Palestinians nothing. Why do you think the Palestinians are so angry. Israel must give back the land and stop all this fighting and killing of innocent people. Everyone has a right to protect their land and people. But Israel is protecting a stolen land and killing innocent people who once lived in the same place , very barbaric indeed

by: Patti from: Hawaii
July 11, 2014 3:17 AM
Please stay out of Israel's business. You treated Mr. Netanyahu so badly, that you disgraced America, except for your liberal party. God loves Israel and He will not be mocked, those who are against her will, one day pay the price.

by: Mladen Andrijasevic from: Isarel
July 11, 2014 1:17 AM
Obama is offering to broker a ceasefire with Hamas!? What ceasefire? It has become crystal clear that no country would permit that its whole population is under rocket attack and remain under threat in the future from of a terror organization whose Charter, Article 13 reads “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.”

There is an additional reason why Israel must destroy Hamas NOW and that is Iran.

As Matthew Kroenig so brilliantly proved in his new book A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat, the United States MUST attack the Iranian nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails. But Obama is quite reluctant to do even that which is imperative for the US. So it leaves Israel. The retaliatory strike that will follow an Israeli preemptive strike on Isfahan, Arak, Natanz and Qom will come from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel has to get rid of the Hamas component in the Iranian retaliation. Israel has to neutralize Hamas NOW so that its part of the Iranian retaliation will not exist when the time comes to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Americans need to get educated on the Middle East:
A mini 5 + 1 question quiz for Secretary Kerry
In Response

by: Babzcorleone from: Manchester, UK
July 11, 2014 9:23 PM
Difficult to contexualise this.. But how can shelling one of the world's most populated areas and indiscriminately killing children be the solution? Palestinians are treated worse than animals and have no human rights. Surely the Jews would have some understanding of what that is like. How can this be part of gods plan? Human beings with deep mistrust and hatred of each other fighting over a patch of land. Its like we havent progessed at all.

by: Mark from: South Carolina
July 10, 2014 10:12 PM
Why? We don't HAVE to stick our toe in every countries business. So far as of late we have only worsened the each situation.

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
July 10, 2014 10:08 PM
Iran next?, asks the Jewish newspaper Haaretz in a story today, headlined" Is Netanyahu already looking beyond Gaza to Iran?
Israel’s top brass have no answer to the simple question, how will we know that we have won?
By Amir Oren
Jul. 11, 2014 | 4:18 AM
The worst outcome of the current confrontation between Israel and Hamas might be a hasty conclusion by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that this is an opportunity to realize his ongoing dream of attacking Iran.
Hundreds of rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, some of them advanced and long-range, have caused only minimal damage. Iron Dome has done wonders intercepting them. Israelis were tense, but got used to it. While the rest of the world is busy with other crises, Netanyahu might think this is a good time for a quick strike on Iran’s nuclear program, as soon as the talks with the six powers fail. (They’re expected to peak, or reach a nadir, in about a week.)
If that’s how Netanyahu’s mind works, then woe to Israel and woe to its prime minister. The lesson to be learned from this week’s round of violence is not a simple one, even without stopping to consider what would happen if tens of thousands of Hezbollah warheads were to join the fray. How would the Israel Defense Forces prepare for a war on multiple fronts? How would it decide how to allocate the missile defense systems, for example, to protect air force bases or population centers?
Iron Dome would not be enough. This week it seems that not only millions of Israelis but also Hamas counted on the system. Otherwise, the organization wouldn’t have risked hitting Al-Aqsa when it fired rockets at Jerusalem. . .
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