GAZA CITY: UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry were in Cairo Tuesday in a bid to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas after two weeks of fighting which has left over 570 Palestinians dead.
Many of those killed in the relentless Israeli campaign of shelling and airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, in its 15th day, were women and children. On the Israeli side 27 soldiers and two civilians have died.
World powers have urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and stop raining rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, demands it has so far resisted.
“Only Hamas now needs to make the decision to spare innocent civilians from this violence,” Kerry said, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for the violence to “stop now”.
Kerry, who arrived in Cairo to try and intensify truce efforts, pledged $47 million in humanitarian aid for the battered Gaza Strip.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi too urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal to end the fighting it had turned down last week.
Kerry plans to hold his meetings Tuesday with the Egyptian leadership including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
However US officials acknowledge that the truce efforts could prove trickier than in the past as Egypt — long the key regional broker — had little leverage with Hamas after the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year.
The top US diplomat defended ally Israel’s right to strike against Hamas militants, but voiced concern over the massive civilian violence.
“We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself,” he told reporters as he met with the UN chief, urging Hamas to accept the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire.
Ban said Hamas “should immediately stop firing rockets,”adding that while he understood Israel’s military response, “there is a proportionality and … most of the death toll (has been) Palestinian people.”
Source : APP