Clinton heads to Middle East amid Gaza violence

Clinton heads to Middle East amid Gaza violence
# 20 November 2012 19:23 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to the Middle East on Tuesday for talks with regional leaders in a bid to find ways to calm the violence in Gaza, the State Department said in a statement, APA reports.

Clinton, who will leave from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh of Cambodia, will visit Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo to consult on the situation in Gaza, said the statement, adding that she will first meet with Israeli officials.

The statement noted that her visits will build on U.S. President Barack Obama's "intensive" engagement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi which is aimed at de-escalating the violence in Gaza and finding a durable way to end rocket attacks on Israeli territories.

Clinton will emphasize the need for a peaceful outcome that both protects Israel's security and leads to improved conditions for the civilians of Gaza, according to the statement.

Dispatching Clinton, the U.S. top diplomat, to the region highlights Obama's growing concern that the violence between Israel and the Palestinian militant groups may get out of hands.

The Obama administration has said it supports Israel's right for self-defense, but it has also voiced concerns that another ground war launched by Israel into Gaza, like the Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008, will cause bloody casualties for both sides.

Violence continues in Gaza and Israel despite increasing regional efforts to broker a ceasefire deal that would prevent Israel from expanding its operations into a ground invasion.

Since the violence escalated last week, over a hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, while three Israelis were also killed in rocket firing from Gaza.

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