Jul 21, 2014
By Jane Brown
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a renewed push for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas with another trip to the Middle East, as the civilian death toll in the conflict has sharply escalated.
Kerry left Washington early today for Cairo, where he plans to urge Hamas to accept a ceasefire agreement offered by Egypt that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also headed to the Egyptian capital to try and broker a truce.
Hamas spurned an Israeli peace plan last week as “capitulation”, but Kerry says that stance has no merit. “You can’t just sit there and claim a moral rectitude or the higher ground, while you’re busy rocketing people and capturing people and digging tunnels to attack them.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s been willing to work toward peace from the start of this conflict. “We didn’t seek this escalation,” Netanyahu explains, “Hamas forced it on us. They started rocketing our cities, steadily increasing the fire. I called for de-escalation. They refused. I accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal backed up by the Arab League and the U.N. They refused. I accepted a humanitarian lull, proposed by the United Nations. They refused. We’ll stop our operations when we can bring back quiet to our people.”
Yesterday’s bloody ground battle with Israeli forces in Gaza City led to 65 Palestinian deaths and the deaths of 13 Israeli soldiers.