President Obama Seeks Ceasefire
TEL AVIV – INTERNATIONAL – President Obama in a telephone call to the Israeli Prime Minister has asked for a humanitarian ceasefire.
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by phone about the situation in Gaza.
The White House states, “The President underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the United States’ serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza”.
A spokesperson for President Obama, briefing the media stated, “Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities. The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza”.
Violence Continued in Gaza as Ceasefire Broken
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (July 27) made the rounds on U.S. Sunday morning news programs to defend Israel’s position in its weeks-long conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Speaking on the CBS news program “Face the Nation,” Netanyahu placed the blame for the civilian death toll in Gaza from Israeli strikes squarely on Hamas. “We try to minimize civilian casualties, we tell the civilians ‘leave’. Hamas tells them to stay. Why does it tell them to stay? Because it wants to pile up these civilians casualties.” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” program saying that Hamas had violated its own offer of a 24-hour humanitarian truce in Gaza.
Hamas said it had offered a 24-hour “humanitarian calm” period that had been due to start at 2PM local time (1100 GMT) on Sunday. However, as 2 p.m. came and went, the sound of heavy Israeli shelling could be heard.
The move comes as increased violence in the region is resulting in more deaths.
Stretchers carrying the dead and wounded pour into hospitals across Gaza Sunday. Fighting has resumed between Israel and Hamas Islamist militants after a temporary ceasefire in the 20-day conflict.
Hamas says it is agreeing to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in Gaza.
The Hamas spokesman on Sunday speaking in Arabic, Sami Abu Zurhi stated, “In response to the assessment of the United Nations and taking into consideration the condition of our people in Gaza, especially in light of the coming of the Eid holiday, there were discussions between the factions and they have reached an agreement to accept the offer of a 24-hour humanitarian calm, starting from two o’clock on Sunday.”
But as 2:00PM Local Time came and went, both sides were reportedly exchanging fire. An Israeli official said the truce was being reviewed.FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / WHITE HOUSE