To Tel Aviv
al-Mughrabi and Crispian Balmer
Updated: 1 hour ago
July 23 (Reuters) - Gaza fighting raged on Wednesday, displacing thousands more
Palestinians in the battered territory as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
said efforts to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas had made some progress.
U.S. aviation authorities lifted a ban on flights to Tel Aviv which had been in
force for two days, prompted by rocket salvoes out of the Gaza Strip, but many
other global airlines were avoiding the Jewish state.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking in Qatar, praised the group's fighters,
whom he said had made gains against Israel and said he supported a humanitarian
truce but a ceasefire would only be acceptable in exchange for easing Gazans'
"Let's agree first on the demands and on implementing them and then we can
agree on the zero hour for a ceasefire... We will not accept any proposal that
does not lift the blockade... We do not desire war and we do not want it to
continue but we will not be broken by it," he said.
Adding to the pressure on Israel, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi
Pillay said there was "a strong possibility" that it was committing
war crimes in Gaza, where 703 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the
fighting, according to Palestinian health officials.
Pillay also condemned indiscriminate Islamist rocket fire out of Gaza and the
United Nations Human Rights Council said it would launch an international
inquiry into alleged violations.
Israel denied any wrongdoing. "Get lost," Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni said on her Facebook page in response to the investigation.
Kerry met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon and a grim-faced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Wednesday. He later returned to Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and has
mediated with Islamist Hamas.
"We have certainly made some steps forward. There is still work to be
done," said Kerry, on one of his most intensive regional visits since the
peace negotiations he had brokered between Netanyahu and Abbas broke down in
An Egyptian official said he expected a humanitarian truce to go into effect by
the weekend, in time for the Eid al-Fitr festival, Islam's biggest annual
celebration that follows the fasting month of Ramadan.
However, a senior U.S. official played down the Egyptian official's confidence
that there would be a truce during Eid, saying this was a U.S. hope but it was
by no means locked in.
"It would not be accurate to say that we expect a ceasefire by the
weekend," said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We are continuing to work on it, but it is not set at this point."
Kerry, who plans to stay in Cairo until Friday, has been working through Abbas,
Egypt and other regional proxies because the United States, like Israel, shuns
Hamas as a terrorist group. Hamas brushed off the U.S. diplomat's appeal,
saying it would not hold fire without making gains.
"Our interest and that of our people is that no agreement should be made
before the conditions of factions of resistance are met," Hamas spokesman
Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt rocket salvoes by Hamas and its
allies, which have struggled under an Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade on
Gaza and been angered by a crackdown on their supporters in the nearby occupied
After an aerial and naval bombardment failed to quell the outgunned guerrillas,
Israel poured ground forces into the Gaza Strip last Thursday, looking to knock
out Hamas's rocket stores and destroy a vast, underground network of tunnels.
"We are meeting resistance around the tunnels ... they are constantly
trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend," Israeli
military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said on Wednesday.
MILITARY LOSSES RISE
Israel announced that three of its soldiers were killed by explosive devices on
Wednesday, lifting the army death toll to 32. Three civilians have also been
killed in rocket attacks out of Gaza, including a Thai laborer hit on
The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be
dead. Hamas says it has captured him, but has not released a picture of him in
Already hurt by mass tourist cancellations, Israel faced increased economic
pressure after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took the rare
step on Tuesday of banning flights to Tel Aviv, renewing the order on Wednesday
and then canceling it.
"Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government
counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed
both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is
taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said in a
press release. (http://1. )
U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines, American Airlines Group and United Airlines did
not immediately respond to requests for comments outside regular U.S. business
Many other foreign carriers, on heightened alert after a Malaysian airliner was
shot down over a combat zone in Ukraine last week, banned flights. Israeli
carriers continued to operate.
"Hamas's success in closing the Israeli air space is a great victory for
the resistance, a terrible failure for Israel that wrecks the image of Israeli
deterrence," said Hamas's Abu Zuhri.
The Tel Aviv stock exchange and shekel currency were flat, with traders showing
little concern about the flight stoppages.
Clouds of black smoke hung over Gaza with the regular thud of artillery and
tank shells filling the air, sending thousands of civilians fleeing from the
town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
"This is not war, this is annihilation," said 17-year-old Hamed
Ayman. "I once dreamt of becoming a doctor. Today I am homeless. They
should watch out for what I could become next."
Palestinian medics said two worshippers were killed and 30 wounded in an attack
on a mosque in the heart of the densely populated Zeitoun neighborhood in
eastern Gaza City.
A Palestinian protester died after a confrontation with Israeli forces in the
Israel named four commanders of Hamas ally Islamic Jihad that it said it had
killed in recent days.
Egypt has tried to get both sides to hold fire and then negotiate terms for
protracted calm in Gaza, which has been rocked by regular bouts of violence
since Israel unilaterally pulled out of the territory in 2005.
Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist, has balked at Cairo's original
proposal, wanting its conditions to be met in full before any end to the
These demands include the release of hundreds of Hamas supporters recently
arrested in the nearby West Bank and an end to the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of
Gaza, which has stymied the economy and made it near impossible for anyone to
The war is extracting a heavy toll on impoverished Gaza, with Palestinian
officials saying that at least 475 houses had been totally destroyed by Israeli
fire and 2,644 partially damaged. Some 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven
hospitals had also suffered varying degrees of destruction.
"There seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian
law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," the
U.N.'s Pillay told an emergency session at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in
Netanyahu reacted furiously to news of the planned U.N. investigation, aware of
the damning report into Israel's 2008/09 Gaza operation, which killed more than
"The decision today by the HRC is a travesty," he said in a
statement. "The HRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas's
decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as
weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes
below to ask the authorities as to which law in the world is in vogue that
empowered a bloody mother fucker's Zionists lobby group AIPAC to interfere with
the "FAA" official activities.
If it is within the American jurisdiction issuing such a letter then the
authorities should know that it is in violation of International law. More so
for US being a founder member of UN to force and compel FAA to facilitate the
killing of International's lives in jeopardy to help Israel to get the
passengers killed by rocket hit or by Israel itself doing it to blame
Palestinians of committing genocide. The Office issuing such memo to FAA is
done with evil motive and in gross violation of International law that would go
against the country US.
of helping Israel an alleged genocide committal of genocide criminal state from
the soil of US overtly and covertly then what is the difference the world
community of nations would view the difference between US and Russia as the
abettor of committal of genocide.
No group of Zionists or Muslim countries should
dare to help the genocide committal Monster government which ever group's
government it might be in violation of International law be it a Muslim's run government
or Israel's government.
This time the world stands divided if any unjust
action is taken by any super power to help any guilty group's party.
Enough is enough World Community of Nations stands
and stood as eye witness of the treachery of a particular country controlled by
Zionists, helped Israel to inhumanely torture Palestinian for the last 67 Years
by the Israel’s ZIONISTS.
It is now time to stop and stop permanently as per
the desire and the Wishes of the World Community of Nations not walk in line on
by threat of the shameless Motherfucker Zionists and members of AIPAC of the
government of Israel in US and all its illegal helpers.
The kind attention of the World Community of Nations
is drawn to the below mentioned quotation. It is request to kindly find therein
the vicious motive of terrorist act hidden
within the memo written to FAA:
"07/23/2014 6:02 PM EDT
AIPAC Condemns U.S. Flight Ban To Israel
Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray reports:
The most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group in
Washington has come out against a Federal Aviation Administration ban on U.S.
airlines flying to Israel after a rocket landed near Ben Gurion International
Airport, saying that the ban “sends the entirely wrong message.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee acknowledges that the FAA must protect air
travelers’ safety but says it is “concerned” by the FAA’s decision to ban
flights to Israel."