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Gaza impasse: Kerry wraps up Israel visit, no sign of breakthrough

Jerusalem: US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel late on Wednesday after a day-long visit during which he tried to broke a ceasefire agreement to end the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.

There have been no official report regarding a possible breakthrough in the ceasefire efforts as Kerry left on Wednesday night and no comments were made by Israeli officials regarding the status of the talks, Xinhua reported. Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian, President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Israel the preceding day, trying to bring an end to Israel's 16-day campaign in Gaza.

Kerry said on Wednesday, prior to his meeting with the UN chief and following his meeting with Palestinian President Abbas, that some progress was made, but that there's still work that needs to be done to reach an agreement. "We have certainly made some steps forward and there is still work to be done," Kerry told the UN chief in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning. Kerry thanked Ban for his efforts to advance "not just a ceasefire but a sustainable process going forward".

The secretary of state did not give any details regarding the so-called progress and made no further statements to the press throughout the visit. Senior Israeli officials were quoted by the Ha'aretz daily as saying that at this point, the conditions are not ripe for a ceasefire. Following Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday evening, the Israeli prime minister convened his security cabinet in Tel Aviv in order to discuss the Gaza operation and the ongoing mediation efforts.

The cabinet is scheduled to conduct an unusual session in the Knesset (parliament) Thursday, the Ha'aretz daily reported, to discuss 'Operation Protective Edge', which Israel commenced on July 8. Netanyahu is expected to give a statement during the session. Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, after making an earlier stop in Cairo where he met Egyptian officials. His arrival comes amid a ban announced by the United States Federal Aviation Authority on flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, due to the rockets threat from the Gaza Strip.

Kerry arrived in Ramallah in the afternoon, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has also been shuttling back and forth between Arab nations in order to get a ceasefire agreement.

 

Toll in Gaza mounts to 701

Gaza: The Palestinian health ministry said early on Thursday that six Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.

The death toll of the Israeli offensive which started on July 8, has mounted to 701, spokesperson of the ministry Ashraf al-Qedra was quoted as saying by Xinhua. He added that at least 4,500 people have been injured.

Israel has lost four civilians and 28 soldiers so far. Regional and international efforts to end the ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza have been going on unabated. However, all endeavours have not yielded any results so far. 

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