U.N. urges cease-fire in Gaza as Kerry travels to Mideast

U.S. and U.N. officials called for an "immediate ceasefire" as fighting between Israel and Palestine has intensified in recent days.
By JC Finley  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:51 AM
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NEW YORK, July 21 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council held a late-night session Sunday to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, and issued a call for an immediate cease-fire.

Rwanda's Ambassador to the U.N. and current UNSC President Eugene Richard Gassan posted on Twitter that the 15-member Council was concerned by "the escalation of violence," and "emphasized the need to improve the humanitarian situation, including through humanitarian pauses."

On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the current crisis, calling "for immediate ceasefire."

"As I travel the region," the U.N. head said, "I will continue to press for an [immediate] ceasefire -- an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State traveled to the Cairo on Monday to meet with Egyptian and other senior officials regarding the situation in Gaza.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Sunday, "We believe there should be a ceasefire as soon as possible -- one that restores the cease-fire reached in November of 2012. Secretary Kerry is working to support Egypt's initiative to pursue that outcome, and will travel to the region as part of those efforts."

On July 17, the Israeli Defense Forces announced it was launching a ground operation into Gaza as part of a new phase of Operation Protective Edge targeting Hamas' tunnels.

Days into the operation, Sunday's violence marked the deadliest day of fighting between Hamas and Israel since 2009, with 18 Israelis and 70 Palestinians dead.

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