Obama sends Hillary Clinton to meet with officials in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo
The U.N. chief called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to the region with a message that escalation of the week-long conflict was in nobody’s interest.
Nevertheless, Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air strikes continued for a seventh day.
Hamas militants said they fired 16 missiles at the southern Israeli city of Beersheba after Israel’s military targeted roughly 100 sites in Gaza overnight, including ammunition stores and the Gaza headquarters of the National Islamic Bank.
Some 110 Palestinians have died in a week of fighting, the majority of them civilians, including 27 children. Three Israelis died last week when a Gaza missile struck their house.
In Cairo, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate ceasefire and said an Israeli ground operation in Gaza would be a “dangerous escalation” that must be avoided.
He had held talks in the Egyptian capital with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and was due to meet Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi before travelling to Israel for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s leaders weighed the benefits and risks of sending tanks and infantry into the densely populated coastal enclave two months before an Israeli election, and indicated they would prefer a diplomatic path backed by world powers, including U.S. President Barack Obama, the European Union and Russia.
The White House said Clinton was going to the Middle East for talks in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo to try to calm the conflict. An Israeli sources said she was expected to meet Netanyahu on Wednesday.