Israel-Gaza conflict: Israelis pound Gaza ‘at full force’ despite demands for ceasefire

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the deadly incident at a UN school 'underscores the need to end the violence'

Jerusalem

Diplomatic efforts by Western nations to try and ensure a ceasefire in the conflict in the Gaza Strip have intensified, as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the country’s military ground and air offensive was continuing at “full force”.

Ministers in Mr Netanyahu’s government ruled out a ceasefire until after the army completes operations to search and destroy cross-border tunnels, which they said will take more than a few days. The Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, meanwhile made clear that while the Islamist group is open to a humanitarian respite in the fighting, it will not hold fire on an ongoing basis until its demands on Gaza are met.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke to officials in Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Qatar the UAE and elsewhere to try and negotiate a ceasefire as the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, met Mr Netanyahu and stressed  the high civilian casualty rate from Israel’s military campaign against Hamas is eroding international support for the state.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority passed to the US and members of the Arab League a list of conditions for a ceasefire, including lifting Egyptian and Israeli border strictures, Israel’s release of rearrested Hamas prisoners, and cancellation of no-entry zones on Gaza territory near the Israeli border, Haaretz reported.

Israel is wary of making concessions in advance to Hamas, in part because the public would see this as a defeat, while Hamas wants guarantees its grievances will be addressed.

 

Mr Hammond met Mr Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to try to buttress the American effort to negotiate a ceasefire. On Wednesday night, he had conferred with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.

“I underlined the need for all concerned to exert every effort to secure an immediate ceasefire to end the violence,” Mr Hammond said.

Mr Kerry said the deadly incident at a UN school in the town of Beit Hanoun today “underscores the need to end the violence”, and  he urged “all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians”.

Video: Ban Ki Moon said he was 'appalled' by the violence

Mr Netanyahu defended the Israeli army during a joint press conference with Mr Hammond, saying “the terrorists are firing rockets from schools, mosques, hospitals and heavily civilian [areas] and we... are doing our best to minimise civilian casualties. But we cannot give our attackers immunity or impunity.’’

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Hammond implied that his message to the Israelis was to quit while they are ahead: “As civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel.’’

Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the Public Security Minister, said it could take “more than a week’’ for the army to fulfil its mission in Gaza. “There is a lot of work to be done and we haven’t limited the army with a timetable.”

Asked if a ceasefire was near, Mark Regev, spokesman for Mr Netanyahu, stressed that the Islamic movement had said no to Egypt’s initial proposal for an unconditional ceasefire, which Israel had backed. “By his continued rejection, Meshaal has continued this conflict and is responsible for the civilian casualties on both sides.’’ 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?