22 July, 2014
United States Secretary of State John Kerry says the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing worse by the day. But, he says Hamas can end the suffering by agreeing to an Egyptian-led ceasefire.
The clashes in Gaza began July 8. Almost 2 million people – mostly Palestinian – live there. Last week Hamas rejected Egypt's ceasefire proposal.
Secretary Kerry met for two hours with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. Mr. Kerry spoke to reporters after the meeting. He said there had been too much death and injury on all sides already. He said they should return to a 2012 Egyptian-led cease-fire agreement.
But returning to the cease-fire probably will be difficult. Former Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi helped negotiate that agreement. Hamas leaders do not have as good a relationship with Mr. Sissi.
The conflict has also deepened since 2012. Hamas believes it did not receive everything diplomats promised two years ago. And, Hamas is demanding that Egypt and Israel stop restricting trade and travel in Gaza. As a result, U.S. officials said diplomats will need to work hard to persuade Hamas to accept a new agreement.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the talks between U.S. and Egyptian officials were about more than just stopping the fighting. Mr. Shukri said he wanted the diplomats to create a cease-fire that provides a safe environment for the Palestinian people. And, Mr. Shukri said international officials wanted to stop future problems in Gaza, too.
On July 21, Hamas launched at least 116 rockets from Gaza into Israel. One hit the area around Tel Aviv.
Overnight Monday, Israel reportedly bombed five mosques and a sports center in Gaza, as well as other targets. The airstrikes turned the sky over Gaza City orange.
Over 580 Palestinians have been killed in this month's clashes. Twenty-nine Israelis have died. Over 3,500 other people have been wounded. In addition, the French news agency AFP said more than 100,000 Gazans have fled their homes.
The United States has announced it will provide $47 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians, to include food and medical supplies.
This report was based on a story from VOA reporter Scott Stearns, as well as reporting from Reuters, AFP and AP.