Push to end Gaza war as John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon hold talks in region
The UN chief and Washington's top diplomat held a flurry of meetings in Cairo yesterday to push for an end to violence in Gaza that has killed more than 590 Palestinians.
As the conflict entered its third week, neither side showed any sign of willingness to pull back, with Israel pursuing a relentless campaign of shelling and air strikes, and militants hitting back with rocket fire and fierce attacks on ground troops.
Watch: Gaza's Beit Lahiya hospital flooded with victims after shelling
World powers have urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and stop firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, demands it has resisted.
US Secretary of State John Kerry opened talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri and met the president, former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Washington's top diplomat, who has invested much of his tenure in an unsuccessful bid for a lasting Middle East peace agreement, said he would discuss the Egyptian proposal, which calls for a ceasefire followed by negotiations.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who has also come to the Egyptian capital to push for a truce, urged Israel and the Palestinians to stop the bloodshed in Gaza.
Speaking at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving in Tel Aviv, Ban described Hamas rocket fire on Israel as "shocking".
"My message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same: Stop fighting, start talking," he said. Meanwhile Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas held talks in Doha, pledging to work together for a ceasefire.