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Kerry returns to Mideast to push for cease-fire

U.S. Condemns 'Brazen' Firing of Rockets by Hamas


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a renewed push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas with another trip to the Middle East after the civilian death toll in the conflict sharply escalated over the weekend.

Kerry left Washington early Monday for Cairo, where he will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012.

He will urge the militant Palestinian group to accept a cease-fire agreement offered by Egypt that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting. More than 430 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed in that time.

The Obama administration, including Kerry, is sharpening its criticism of Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel and other provocative acts, like tunneling under the border. It is also toning down an earlier rebuke of Israel for attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed civilians, including children.

In a statement Sunday evening, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. and international partners were "deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life."

Two Americans, Max Steinberg of California and Nissim Carmeli of Texas, who fought for the Israel Defense Forces were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip. The State Department confirmed the names of the two U.S. citizens Sunday night.

Cairo's cease-fire plan is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt.

Making the rounds of Sunday talk shows, Kerry said Hamas needs to recognize its own responsibility for the conflict.

"It's ugly. War is ugly, and bad things are going to happen," Kerry told ABC's "This Week."

Both President Barack Obama and Kerry said Israel has a right to defend itself against frequent rocket attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Kerry accused Hamas of attempting to sedate and kidnap Israelis through a network of tunnels that militants have used to stage cross-border raids.

He said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Hamas must "step up and show a level of reasonableness, and they need to accept the offer of a cease-fire."

The nearly two-week conflict appeared to be escalating as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was already in the region to try to revive cease-fire efforts.

Obama, in a telephone call Sunday, told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Kerry was coming to the Mideast and condemned Hamas' attacks, according to a White House statement.

The U.N. relief agency in Gaza estimates that 70,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in the fighting and are seeking shelter in schools and other shelters the United Nations has set up.

U.S. officials said Hamas could bring relief to the Palestinian people if it agrees to a cease-fire proposed by Egypt - a view Netanyahu is pushing as well.

Netanyahu said in an ABC interview that Israel has tried to avoid killing Palestinian civilians by making phone calls, sending text messages and dropping leaflets on their communities. But Hamas doesn't "give a whit about the Palestinians," Netanyahu said. "All they want is more and more civilian deaths."

The prime minister said his top goal is to restore a sustainable peace, but he then will ask the international community to consider demilitarizing Gaza to rid Hamas of its rockets and shut down the tunnels leading into Israel.

Kerry spoke Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," CNN's "State of the Union," ABC's "This Week," CBS' "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday."

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crowland503 July 21 2014 at 6:46 AM

Kerry just doesn't know how useless he is under a phony, deadbeat White House President who has become a laughable baboon in the eyes of the world! If only Obama could stay off the golf course...

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35 replies
Gene July 21 2014 at 6:53 AM

Lest anyone forgets who is responsible for 99% of the turmoil and chaos on earth.......MUSLIMS.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
10 replies
bert hall July 21 2014 at 7:16 AM


Flag Reply +99 rate up
20 replies
iraebstein July 21 2014 at 6:51 AM

In who's best interest is that? Israel must put an end to Hamas now!

Flag Reply +98 rate up
13 replies
bspiritarrow July 21 2014 at 6:49 AM

You cannot reason with Hamas . So go after them with all you have .

Flag Reply +89 rate up
4 replies
Hippie July 21 2014 at 6:58 AM

Oh boy! Lurch to the rescue! The world is saved!

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4 replies
for.good.or.evil July 21 2014 at 7:56 AM

John Kerry can make cease-fire deals all day - every day ---- So What..!
These Muslim Hamas betray the deal.
Muslims take great pride
in deceiving infidels...
-- Kill Every Muslim in Gaza --

Flag Reply +74 rate up
6 replies
Phil July 21 2014 at 6:53 AM

Kerry is a joke, he should be supporting a continuation of the was until Hamas is totally distroyed.

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3 replies
seabasskj July 21 2014 at 9:47 AM

Cease fires only allow the Palestinians time to gather up more piles of rocks to throw.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
rmg21943 seabasskj July 21 2014 at 10:05 AM

Rocks vs. Tanks? Ask the Czechs how that
worked out for them? Or the Poles? Or the
Chinese, etc.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
derealest July 21 2014 at 11:38 AM

I just watched the president's speech...pathetic followed by a hollow "thanks" at the end. very dismissive and he was 20 minutes late giving it. I hope the citizens think very carefully before our next elections. The current administration will leave innumerable serious problems for the next. I know you want to blame Bush....but every problem blamed on Bush is now much worse. At EVERY measure. Wake up people. Obama's vision for our once proud country is very different from the country we want.

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2 replies
michael derealest July 21 2014 at 11:41 AM

As President Obama has said he wants to transform the U.S. , IN OREDER TO DO THIS YOU HAVE TO DESTROY IT HE IS WELL ON HIS WAY IN DOING THIS

Flag Reply +2 rate up
clark8642 derealest July 21 2014 at 11:41 AM

Things were going pretty well in the ME before President Obama? Sure they were. Conservatives know that is not true.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Randy clark8642 July 21 2014 at 11:56 AM

Odd... Iraq was not under the control of the sand flea terrorists, Syria was not involved in a civil war against the sand flea terrorists, Libya was not under the control of sand flea terrorists, Iran did not have atomic weapon capability, Israeli citizens were not hiding in bomb shelters from the sand flea Hamas group and Egypt was a democracy being run by a democratic elected civilian. Now Iraq is in then hands of those swearing to kill all Americans and Israelis, Libya is in chaos, Syria is in chaos, Egypt has had riots, murders and three different governments in 3 years... Yep, obammy is doing a bang up job in the middle east.

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aol~~ 1209600


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