Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are in Cairo today in
an attempt to strike a truce between Israel and Hamas, after two weeks of
fighting. Even the Arab League is pressuring the Islamic militants into
accepting a cease-fire according to an Egyptian proposal.
Meanwhile on the ground the number of victims on both sides is growing disproportionately. This morning, another 16 Palestinians were killed bringing to 583 the number of deaths since the conflict began; the majority are women, children and elderly. In addition there are more than 3 thousand injured.
This morning, two more Israeli soldiers were killed, bringing to 29 the victims of Israel, of which 27 are soldiers. Hundreds have been injured.
Kerry supports the right of Israel to a "proper and lawful" military operation, but seems worried by the number of casualties among the Palestinians. He has promised 47 million U.S. dollars to be sent to Gaza to "alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis."
Ban has reaffirmed the urgent need for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire. On the one hand, he says, Israel has a right to defend itself, but on the other the removal of the Gaza blockade that has been in place since 2006 is necessary "so that people will not be forced to use this type of violence to express their discontent ".
Yesterday an Israeli air strike hit a hospital in Gaza, killing at least five people and wounding 70. Israeli Armed forces say they wanted to hit a missile in flight in the "immediate vicinity" of the hospital. But the doctors at the hospital complain that the bombs hit the entrance of the building, the intensive care units and some surgery rooms, causing victims among the doctors themselves.
According to the Israeli military, "civilian casualties are a tragic fatality [due to] the brutal and systematic exploitation of homes, hospitals and mosques by Hamas."
The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, defining the conflict as "madness", reiterated that the conditions for a cease-fire include the total removal of the blockade and the release of prisoners recently arrested in the West Bank.
Sporadic violence has broken out in the West Bank, where a Palestinian who threw stones at the soldiers' car, was killed.
There were also overnight clashed in east Jerusalem, where groups of Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police. There were no casualties.