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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid