Israel-Gaza conflict: John Kerry arrives in Tel Aviv to broker peace deal amid travel ban
The US Secretary of State is due to meet with the leaders of Israel and Palestine to try and negotiate a solution
US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Israel to conduct peace negotiations despite a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ban on flying to the region.
Hamas rockets landed “approximately one mile from [Tel Aviv’s] Ben Gurion International Airport” yesterday morning, the FAA said, as it prohibited US airlines from flying to or from it for a period of up to 24 hours.
However, the FAA notice can be disregarded for particular persons with authorisation from the US government.
Kerry arrived on an Air Force jet to meet for a second time this week UN leader Ban Ki-moon in an effort to help broker an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian fighters.
Progress is slowly being made, Washington said.
“We certainly have made steps forward,” Mr Kerry stressed in Jerusalem. “There’s still work to be done.”
It was Mr Kerry’s third day of peace talks with Middle East leaders, after he flew out on Monday to Cairo, Egypt, following an emergency UN meeting which discussed the worsening conflict and death count.
Sunday saw the bloodiest day of the two-week violence so far, with 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers – including two Americans – killed.
Mr Kerry is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond is also set to arrive in Israel today, Haaretz reports.
Intense fighting is currently happening in Khan Younis, to the south of the Gaza Strip.
Humanitarian organisation the The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said had been trying to evacuate 250 people while under Israeli tank shelling and drone strikes.
Video: US halts flights to Israel
Eight Hamas members have reportedly died in the fierce battle there, as fighters deployed rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons at the Israelis.
Hamas has rejected an Egypt-proposed ceasefire that both Israel and the US support, which would result in a possible new border arrangement for Gaza.
Before laying down arms, Hamas said it wants guarantees from both Egypt and Israel that the two bordering countries will ease their blockade.
Talks are also likely to include Palestinian allies Turkey and Qatar. “We don’t have much time to wait and lose,” Mr Ban told reporters in Israel.
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Mr Kerry also expressed his “profound gratitude” to the 30,000 Israelis he said lined the Jerusalem streets today for the funeral of Max Steinberg, 24, a US citizen who died fighting in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
Deaths of IDF/US citizens Max Steinberg & Sean Carmeli in #Gaza heartbreaking reminder of close bonds w/ Israel/condolences to all; John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 23, 2014
Israel's military death toll rose to 29 today, while the Palestinian death toll stands at 657, a Gaza health official, Ashraf al-Kidra, said.
It comes as a 12-year-old child was reportedly one of a number of people killed in Gaza today “when an Israeli shell hit a cart pulled by a donkey in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Naser in the northern Gaza Strip,” the Guardian reports.
A Thai national working on an Israeli farm was also reportedly killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
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