Kerry in Israel to give push to Gaza ceasefire
Posted on Jul 23 2014 | IANS
Gaza, July 23 : US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel Wednesday to boost efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
The US Secretary of State, who came from Cairo where he met Egyptian officials, is scheduled to travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Xinhua reported.
Kerry has planned to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and also UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who is also in the region amidst diplomatic efforts to end the fighting.
Kerry's arrival on the 16th day of Israel's Operation Protective Edge comes a day after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) banned US commercial flights into Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, after a rocket slammed into Israeli territory in the central town of Yahud, not far from the airport.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Kerry Tuesday night over the phone and asked him to restore air travel to Tel Aviv.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israeli officials to act with maximum restraint amid Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip as the Palestinian civilian toll escalated.
At least 639 Palestinians, including women, children, the elderly and the disabled, have been killed and over 4,000 others injured since Israel started its offensive on Gaza July 8 in response to Palestinian rocket firing into its territory.
Two Israeli civilians and 29 soldiers were also killed during the ongoing offensive.