News / Middle East

Kerry: 'Hamas Has a Fundamental Choice'

Kerry: 'Hamas Has a Fundamental Choice'i
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July 23, 2014 2:13 AM
With Israel pressing its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing worse by the day, but it is up to Hamas to stop that suffering by agreeing to an Egyptian-led cease-fire. VOA's Scott Stearns reports from Cairo
Kerry: 'Hamas Has a Fundamental Choice'

With Israel pressing its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing worse by the day, but it is up to Hamas to stop that suffering by agreeing to an Egyptian-led cease-fire. 

In Cairo Tuesday to meet with Egyptian and Arab League officials, Kerry said Egypt is offering a framework for the international community to help end the fighting in Gaza and return to a 2012 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

"Hamas has a fundamental choice to make,” he said. “And it is a choice that will have a profound impact for the people of Gaza."

Kerry: Hamas Has a Fundamental Choicei
X
Scott Stearns
July 22, 2014 8:42 PM
With Israel pressing its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the humanitarian crisis there is growing worse by the day. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Cairo where Secretary Kerry called on Hamas to accept Egyptian proposals for a cease-fire.

Following two hours of talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Kerry told reporters that there has been too much bloodshed on all sides.

"For two weeks now, we have seen Hamas launch rocket after rocket at Israeli neighborhoods and use an intricate set of tunnels that they have created in order to kidnap and try to kill Israeli citizens,” he said. “And for two weeks we have seen Israel respond, as any country has the right to do when it is under attack, and we support Israel's right of self-defense. But tragically trapped in the middle of all of this are people, civilians."

It’s creating a humanitarian crisis that worsens by the day, he said, with "people losing their homes, all of their possessions, their access to food and water, their entire way of life."

The Obama administration has announced $47 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians, including food, shelter and medical supplies. "And yes," Kerry added, "we know much more will be needed from us and the international community." 

Getting at deeper issues

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said it is not enough to just stop the fighting. He said these talks in Cairo must also help address the underlying causes of the conflict.

"We are hopeful that this visit will result in a cease-fire that provides the necessary security for the Palestinian people and that we can commence to address the medium- and long-term issues related to Gaza," Shukri said.

For Hamas, one of the biggest issues is the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Because of it, Hamas says it rejected last week's Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

Getting back to the 2012 cease-fire terms is more difficult, in part, because al-Sissi has a far less cordial relationship with Hamas than former Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi did. The conflict itself is also further along than it was in 2012, and Hamas believes some of what it was promised two years ago was never delivered, so U.S. officials say the group will need more convincing this time.

Unable to negotiate directly with Hamas because it is classified by the United States as a terrorist organization, Kerry is working through Hamas backers Turkey and Qatar.

  • Israeli airstrikes pummel a wide range of targets in the Gaza Strip; an Israeli tank is seen here while heavy smoke rises from Gaza, July 22, 2014. 
  • Palestinians inspect the damage of the Al-Shalam (Peace) tower, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, July 22, 2014. 
  • A relative bursts into tears while mourners try to comfort him as they gather around the bodies of seven members of the Kelani family, killed overnight by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, July 22, 2014.
  • A Palestinian family flees from their home in Gaza City, July 22, 2014. 
  • Israelis try to comfort a woman overcome by emotion after a rocket was fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza, into Yahud, central Israel, July 22, 2014.
  • As smoke rises in the skyline from an Israeli strike, mourners holding palm tree fronds gather to bury seven members of the Kelani family killed overnight by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, July 22, 2014.
  • Thousands of Israelis attended the funeral of Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, July 21, 2014. 
  • Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, July 22, 2014.

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by: Paul Riverman
July 23, 2014 10:33 AM
It is clear that Hamas is following a world wide trend of Terrorism, nothing new and is being aided and abetted by other organizations of like mind, with the necessary arms and training to force a change, much like those low intensity wars fought throughout the world, including Zimbabwe and South Africa.

However some Western countries regrettably rendered tacit support to these liberation movements whilst others supplied the military hardware. Again a similar situation has arisen in the Middle East with Russia and Syria supporting Hamas. The West must stand by Israel in her hour of need and not capitulate.

by: Gypsy from: USA
July 22, 2014 8:57 PM
The Israelis would do well to recall that the Irish, occupied by the British for hundreds of years, NEVER gave up, NEVER stopped fighting back against their oppressors.
So it goes with Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. No wonder the good people of Ireland are among the world's most pro-Palestinian; like we Native Americans, they know an occupation when they see one!
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 23, 2014 10:50 AM
US President Barack Obama "quote" said it on June 18, 2013.... "The Northern Ireland progress, is a model for peace"

But experts say; "but tearing down Belfast's nearly (100 peace lines) _ barricades of brick, steel, and barb-wire, that divide the neighborhoods, roads, and even one playground _ is still seen by many as too dangerous." __ (if only the experts knew, what Obama knows?)..... Northern Ireland maybe the model for "peace" in the Palestinian apartheid occupied territories?

by: h.schwartz from: us
July 22, 2014 2:08 PM
Does Hamas regret starting this war?

by: 2ndiceberg from: Canada
July 22, 2014 1:35 PM
The hypocrisy from both Obama and Kerry finally has made me and a lot of people stop listening. They and their country no longer have any moral credibility. Gaza will never be given back when it is once again in Israeli hands. How about disarming both sides (including Israeli nuclear arms) and putting in a U.N. peacekeeping force? Never in a million years as long as political leaders allow global economic neoliberalism to rob countries of their sovereignty. For what? For the acidic taste of power and money. How many countries in the E.U. actually have control of their own economic systems any longer? Even the Israeli people are protesting their own dismal situation. We are being run by people with no country and no allegiance beyond power and money.
In Response

by: hmp49 from: asheville nc
July 24, 2014 8:17 AM
"Gaza was occupied and colonized by Israel from 1967 to 1995." Actually it was 2005 when Israel withdrew, and there was no blockade until 2007, after the Gazans proved the necessity for a blockade by firing thousands of rockets at Israel, and crossing into Israel proper to kidnap Shalit and kill his comrades. The Palestinians have EARNED their hardships. In the early 90s, their movements were unrestricted, with over 100,000 coming into Israel every day to work, and then return home.

That privilege ended when the Palestinians started blowing up buses, mothers, and infants in pizza parlors. As I said, Palestinians have EARNED their hardships. And despite that, Israel sends 130,000 truckloads of food into Gaza each year, provides fuel and electricity, and treats 210,000 Palestinians (as distinct from Israeli Arabs) in Israeli hospitals each year.

Among those treated were Abbas's wife (ironically treated in the best orthopedic surgery facility in Israel, the day after the 3 Israeli teens were kidnapped), and the brother-in-law and granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Haniya. Can you imagine any other country treating those committed to the destruction of the Israeli state and its people, the same way?
In Response

by: Nathan from: Lemkhin
July 22, 2014 3:16 PM
The hypocrisy is on your side, too, 2indiceberg! As Hamas shoots rockets, provokes wars, and spews out the most Nazi propaganda (read their charter) to their people's children and manipulates world opinion, you are actually mad at those trying to broker peace.
In Response

by: charlie from: california
July 22, 2014 2:53 PM
Gaza was occupied and colonized by Israel from 1967 to 1995. 5,000 Israeli Jews with guns, private roads, subsidized housing and the right vote had two million refugees as cheap labor. How soon some forget the past if they ever knew it.
In Response

by: Simon from: Canada
July 22, 2014 2:00 PM
No, Gaza has never been in hands of Israel. It was in Egyptian hands. There is only one way to resolve conflict - Gaza fully disarms, acknowledges existence of the State of Israel, takes away all articles about hatred to Jews and Israel from their official documents, educate children in schools that Israel is a neighbor and friendly neighbor for those who is not planning to attack it. And don not cry about Gazans as victims. Hamas declares that to die for Hamas is bliss that's why they use human shields in their tactics. Israelis value every their man, every soul. This is a great difference.

by: Pianoeman2001 from: New York City
July 22, 2014 12:58 PM
$47 million in humanitarian aid given to people who hate us just as much as they hate Israel. Also, i dont suppose we have any poor, sick and hungry people here that could use that "humanitarian aid".....homeless vets, too. No i guess not. We're all rich here.

by: robert from: oklahoma city
July 22, 2014 12:52 PM
The decision Hamas needs to make is give up the weapons and quit attacking Israel. There is no evidence Israel has ever precipitated unwarranted attacks on Hamas. For that reason they could safely give up their weapons and end this conflict.

by: frank phillips from: ottawa on canada
July 22, 2014 12:50 PM
Hamas has a choice does it? When those three Jewish teens went missing and without any proof of responsibility over 200 Hamas officials were arrested in the occupied W Bank without charges being laid. Hamas made a choice and it was the right one. There are now 27 dead Jewish soldiers and one is captured. That one will not only get the arrested Hamas officials released but hundreds of more that had the same thing done to them. Kerry's pronouncements all said are rather disgusting.
In Response

by: Loki from: Toronto
July 24, 2014 9:24 AM
"The simpleton is you. At the time of the arrests they had no proof of anything. Miss the part of no charges being laid did you. Talk about mental midgets."

Well that contributed nothing. Of course there were no charges laid - the ones picked up were known associates of the two wanted suspects. That's why there were no charges - they were not the suspects - they were wanted for questioning with good reason.
In Response

by: frank phillips from: ottawa on canada
July 22, 2014 2:22 PM
"Obviously you are no mental giant. They know exactly who took those boys. Why do you think they have been searching for two specific individuals and why do you think those two went into hiding before the Israelis even identified them?" The simpleton is you. At the time of the arrests they had no proof of anything. Miss the part of no charges being laid did you. Talk about mental midgets.
In Response

by: Simon from: Canada
July 22, 2014 2:07 PM
Well what was better for Hamas to start their war, or think about their civilians? Do those Hamas rascals that are imprisoned worth hundreds of killed and thousands of wounded? Yes, some Israelis soldiers and few civilians were killed. But how many were killed in other wars with Arabs? Just to defend Israeli land. It is necessary to stop Islamic groups to attack Israel and this is the only way. They should acknowledge existence of this State and live with it in peace as we now see with Jordan and Egypt.
In Response

by: Loki from: Toronto
July 22, 2014 1:32 PM
Obviously you are no mental giant. They know exactly who took those boys. Why do you think they have been searching for two specific individuals and why do you think those two went into hiding before the Israelis even identified them?

by: pilisugsug from: USA
July 22, 2014 12:49 PM
Hamas has deliberately put women and children in harms way hoping that the world will side with Hamas. Most Americans see right through Hamas. The Palestinian civilians deserve better treatment from Hamas.

by: Scott D. Mendelson
July 22, 2014 12:45 PM
Why is it that Egypt is no longer an friend and ally of Hamas? Of course, the lunatic fringe may suggest that Egypt is under the control of the Zionists. However, the obvious explanation is that there is political rivalry. Egypt doesn't see Hamas as a heroic savior of the Palestinians, but rather as the corrupt, self-interested, gang that has Gaza by the throat.

by: Bruce from: Canada
July 22, 2014 12:42 PM
The civilians are not trapped - they put themselves there by voting in a terrorist organization as a government, now they're paying for it with weapons and ammunition in their homes and tunnels underneath. Hamas has done nothing for them but were they too stupid to know that in the first place?
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