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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs