News / Middle East

Kerry, UN's Ban Seek Israel-Gaza Cease-fire

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon make statements to reporters in Cairo, Egypt, July 21, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon make statements to reporters in Cairo, Egypt, July 21, 2014.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are continuing meetings with officials in Cairo, in a bid to bring an end to fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The two-week-old conflict showed no sign of slowing early Tuesday. Israeli airstrikes hit more than 70 targets, including mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip, a Gaza police official told the Associated Press. At least 10 people were killed. Meanwhile, rockets from Gaza flew into Israel.

Kerry met early Tuesday with Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj before holding talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.  

Both Kerry and Shukri said they hoped to not only achieve a cease-fire, but also move forward with the larger Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Ban, who has urged both sides to immediately halt the violence and start negotiations without preconditions, is due to travel to Israel for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the West Bank to talk with Palestinian officials.

Israeli soldiers' bodies identified

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it had identified the bodies of six soldiers killed when their vehicle was attacked on Sunday. It's still working to identify a seventh soldier. Israeli media said the soldier was missing, but did not say whether he was alive or dead.

A Hamas spokesman said Sunday that militants had captured an Israeli soldier in Gaza. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said that was "untrue."

The military also announced the deaths of two soldiers from Monday, bringing the Israeli death toll to 29, including two civilians, in the deadliest fighting in Gaza in five years.

The conflict has been far more devastating in the Palestinian territory, where more than 570 people have died since the conflict began July 8. Most of them were civilians.

Also Tuesday, gunfire hit the Gaza City offices of Al-Jazeera news network, which evacuated its employees from the site. An Israeli official said it would be "ridiculous" to accuse its forces of deliberately targeting journalists.

Israel began a ground offensive into Gaza last Thursday after airstrikes failed to stop Hamas cross-border rocket attacks.

Immediate cease-fire

President Barack Obama said he sent Kerry to Cairo to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

"The work will not be easy. Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved," Obama said Monday at the White House. "Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation to hostilities. We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed."

Senior State Department officials traveling with Kerry said "growing concern" in Washington about rising civilian casualties prompted this trip.

Restoring the 2012 cease-fire is more difficult because of the change in Cairo's government. Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood negotiated that deal, in part, on the strength of long-standing ties with Hamas.

Egypt's new leader, the former general Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is far less sympathetic to Hamas, meaning Kerry needs to include Hamas backers such as Qatar and Turkey.

But Qatar and Egypt are at odds over the treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood since the coup against Morsi.

And acrimony between Turkey and Israel has grown since Israeli troops entered Gaza, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling Israel a terrorist state that is attempting a "systematic genocide" against Palestinians.

Harder to negotiate

Senior State Department officials said getting back to a cease-fire also will be harder because the conflict itself is further along than it was in 2012, and because Hamas believes some of what it was promised two years ago was never delivered. The group will need more convincing this time.

Last week, Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire as "not worth the ink it was written with" because it offered no relief from the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

A senior State Department official said "there may be an effort" to address border crossings in a renewed cease-fire push, stressing that Washington is looking to "find a more robust solution" to the conflict beyond a cease-fire.

In Cairo late Monday, Kerry announced $47 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for Palestinians, including shelter, food and medical supplies for Gaza.

The Obama administration said it remains committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of Palestinians and will continue to monitor that situation closely.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Candace Jacallen from: U.S.
July 22, 2014 3:12 AM
"To remedy this condition there must be universal peace. To bring this about, a Supreme Tribunal must be established, representative of all governments and peoples; questions both national and international must be referred thereto, and all must carry out the decrees of this Tribunal. Should any government or people disobey, let the whole world arise against that government or people."
- Abdu'l-Baha, (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 249)
P.S. The tribunal already exists. It is called the Universal House of Justice and is housed on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, the world center of the Baha'i Faith.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid