Gaza bloodshed deepens, airlines shun Israel

Gaza bloodshed deepens, airlines shun Israel
# 23 July 2014 20:50 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Gaza fighting raged on Wednesday, displacing thousands more Palestinians in the battered territory as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said indirect truce talks between Israel and Hamas had made some progress, APA reports quoting Reuters.

While pressing a 15-day-old offensive, Israel scrambled to contain economic damage from a halt of flights to Tel Aviv's main airport by U.S. and European airlines spooked by the long-range rocket salvoes of Hamas and other Gaza Strip guerrillas.

Adding to 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 668 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

Israel denied the suggestion, stepping up the war of words and accusing Hamas of using fellow Gazans as human shields.

Kerry met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and was due to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before returning 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 April.

"We are doing this for one simple reason. The people in the Palestinian territories, the people in Israel, are all living under the threat or reality of immediate violence. And this need to end for everybody."

Kerry has been working through Abbas, Egypt and other regional proxies as 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 angered by a crackdown on their supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank.

After 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.

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