Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Kerry pushes truce as Gaza conflict hits Israel air traffic <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>US Secretary of State John Kerry took his truce mission to Israel Wednesday as the conflict in Gaza entered its 16th day and world airlines suspended flights over rocket fears.</p><p>As air traffic thinned over Tel Aviv airport, Kerry flew in from Cairo for whirlwind talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, despite a US aviation warning on flights into Israel after a rocket struck near the runway a day earlier.</p><p>And there was no let-up in the violence, with neither Israel nor Hamas showing willingness to end hostilities, despite days of diplomatic efforts to coax them into a truce.</p><p>Gaza&#39;s emergency services said that at least 21 people were killed Wednesday, hiking the Palestinian death toll to 652, while the army announced another two soldiers had been killed in fighting a day earlier, raising the number of Israeli dead to 31, including 29 soldiers.</p><p>And a foreign worker in southern Israel died on Wednesday after being hit by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, police said.</p><p>On the ground, Saint Prophyrios Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City was packed to overflowing as hundreds of people, mostly women and children, sought shelter after escaping the inferno of neighbouring areas like Shejaiya.</p><p>&quot;Many of them, their houses are destroyed. Many people have been injured or killed. So we try to help these people,&quot; said Archbishop Alexios, one of Gaza&#39;s 1,500 Christians.</p><p>At the start of a flying visit to Israel, Kerry said that regional diplomacy efforts had made some progress but said more time was needed.</p><p>- Some progress, more needed -</p><p>&quot;We have certainly made some steps forward, but there is still work to be done,&quot; Kerry said in Jerusalem at the start of a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon whom he also met in Cairo on Monday.</p><p>The UN chief warned there was no time to lose.</p><p>&quot;We are now joining our forces in strength to make a ceasefire as soon as possible,&quot; he said.</p><p>Kerry then went to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and was later return to Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was expected to return to Cairo in the evening.</p><p>In Geneva, UN rights chief Navi Pillay condemned both Israel and Hamasat an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, saying Israeli attacks which had killed civilians, among them children, could amount to war crimes.</p><p>&quot;There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,&quot; Pillay told an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council referring to attacks that have killed civilians, among them children.</p><p>But she also denounced Hamas for its &quot;indiscriminate attacks&quot; on Israeli civilians.</p><p>Kerry&#39;s arrival in Tel Aviv came a day after a Gaza rocket struck close to the airport, prompting the US Federal Aviation Authority to ban commercial flights to and from Israel for at least 24 hours.</p><p>And its European counterpart advised all carriers to avoid Tel Aviv &quot;until further notice&quot; in a warning just days after a Malaysian flight was allegedly shot down over strife-torn eastern Ukraine.</p><p>&#39;Avoid Tel Aviv&#39;</p><p>On Wednesday, Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines also said they would suspend flights to Tel Aviv for security reasons.</p><p>Netanyahu appealed to Kerry to lift the ban, the first since the 1990-1991 Gulf war, with the US diplomat assuring him it would be reviewed within a day.</p><p>Kerry began his regional mission in Cairo, discussing ceasefire proposals with Egypt&#39;s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying he backed an Egyptian truce initiative as a &quot;framework&quot; to end the fighting.</p><p>UN chief Ban was also in Jerusalem for ceasefire talks after several days in Cairo and elsewhere in a bid to drive forward regional efforts to halt the bloodshed.</p><p>On the eve of Kerry&#39;s visit, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pledged Israel would be held accountable for the bloodshed in Gaza.</p><p>Abbas who has been holding truce talks in Doha with Hamas&#39;s exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, called for &quot;widespread popular protest&quot; in solidarity with Gaza.</p><p>Later in the evening, Israeli troops in the West Bank forces shot dead a Palestinian in clashes near the southern city of Bethlehem, sources on both sides said.</p><p>There has been a growing wave of protest across the West Bank and in Arab towns in Israel, with police saying they had arrested 800 Arab Israelis and another 295 from east Jerusalem in the past three weeks in protests which began before the July 8 start of Israel&#39;s Gaza campaign.</p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:15:00 +0000 AFP 2437668 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/04/30/484151/2013-08-26t192342z_1562394120_gm1e98r098w01_rtrmadp_3_syria-crisis-usa-kerry.jpg Rebels down two Ukrainian fighter jets <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets in eastern Ukraine just days after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a Ukrainian military spokesman told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Two Sukhoi Ukrainian fighter jets have been shot down. The fate of the pilots is not known,&quot; spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky said, adding the planes were brought down some 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the crash site of MH17.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But a second military spokesman said the jets had been downed at a different location by rockets fired by insurgents. The two pilots managed to parachute out, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Today in the south of the Lugansk region close to the village of Dmytrivka, pro-Russian fighters shot two Su-25 jets from a missile system,&quot; spokesman Vladislav Seleznev said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The pilots took evasive action ... but the planes were hit,&quot; he said</div> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:22:00 +0000 AFP 2437667 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/26/484151/pro-russian_checkpoint.jpg Syrian opposition coalition dissolves interim government <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The Western-backed National Coalition of Syrian opposition members said on Tuesday it had voted to force out its &quot;interim government&quot; and form a new one within a month.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Attempts to form a viable government-in-exile for Syria&#39;s opposition have been hamstrung by rivalries between its backers and among its members as well as by its inability to establish itself inside Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The National Coalition is designated as the main body representing the opposition by the United States and other major powers but it has little influence over rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The group said in a statement on Tuesday it was dissolving its interim cabinet to &quot;create new ground for work on the basis of moving the government into the interior as soon as possible, and employing Syrian revolutionary capabilities&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The coalition&#39;s interim Prime Minister Ahmed Toumeh and other ministers would continue as caretakers until the new government was formed, it said. Nominations would be open for two weeks and a new government formed within 30 days.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The dissolution of the government comes two weeks after the group elected Hadi al-Bahra, a US-trained industrial engineer, to replace its president, Ahmad Jarba, after he served his maximum two six-month terms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both Bahra and Jarba have close ties to Saudi Arabia, one of the main backers of the rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bahra had also been chief negotiator at US and Russian-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland, which stalled after two rounds in January and February.</div> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:42:00 +0000 Reuters 2437659 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/01/20/156431/syrian_opposition.jpg Israel says soldier missing, presumed dead <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, dashing hopes of a pause in the fighting, as the military said one of its soldiers was missing, presumed dead, following clashes with Hamas Islamists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>International efforts to end the 15-day conflict gathered pace, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holding talks in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon due to arrive in Israel later in the day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, there was no sign of any let-up in the fighting around Gaza, with plumes of black smoke spiraling into the sky, and Israeli shells raining down on the coastal enclave.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hamas and its allies fired a barrage of rockets into southern and central Israel, triggering sirens in Tel Aviv, with one missile striking a nearby town, lightly injuring two people, officials said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile fire out of Gaza by Hamas, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military said it had identified the remains of six soldiers killed in an attack on their armored vehicle inside Gaza on Sunday. It had already announced that seven died in the strike and said it was trying to identify the seventh.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sparking widespread celebrations in Gaza, Hamas&#39;s armed wing announced on Sunday that it had captured a soldier in Sunday&#39;s clashes. It displayed a photo ID and army serial number of the man, but did not show any image of him in their hands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military believes it was impossible for anyone to have survived the hit on the army APC.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel has agreed to mass releases of Palestinian prisoners in the past to secure the freedom of captured soldiers, or even for the return of the bodies of its citizens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With the conflict entering its third week, the Palestinian death toll rose to almost 550, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military said it had killed 183 militants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel&#39;s casualties also mounted, with the military announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of army fatalities to 27 - almost three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza in a 2008-2009 war.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Palestinian militants in Gaza said they had agreed to a five-hour ceasefire on Tuesday to allow Gazan residents to leave their homes and seek vital supplies, and accused Israel of rejecting the proposal. Israeli officials did not comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Violence spread to the nearby West Bank, where medics said soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man while dispersing stone-throwing protesters. A Palestinian shot and seriously wounded an Israeli in the Nablus area on Tuesday.</div> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:49:00 +0000 Reuters 2437650 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/07/21/484151/israeli_ground_offensive.jpg