Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2014 Contents A38
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 24, 2014
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GAZA CITY---Israeli troops battled Hamas militants
yesterday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the
top US diplomat reported progress in efforts to end
fighting that has so far killed more than 680 Pales-
tinians and 34 Israelis.
But neither side appeared to be backing down,
after Israeli troops clashed with Hamas near the Gaza
town of Khan Younis in heavy fighting that forced
dozens of families to flee.
Israel has insisted it must substantially curb the
military capabilities of the Islamic militant group
Hamas---a position that appears to have gained support
within the US administration---while Hamas has
demanded the lifting of a crippling Israeli and Egyptian
blockade on the impoverished coastal territory it has
ruled since 2007.
US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Tel Aviv
despite a Federal Aviation Administration ban following
a Hamas rocket that hit near the airport the day
before, reflecting his determination to achieve a cease-
fire. He was to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ben-
jamin Netanyahu after earlier talks with Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-
moon, who is also in the region.
But US officials have downplayed expectations for
BERLIN---Air France and Germany s two largest
airlines yesterday cancelled more flights to Tel Aviv
because of ongoing safety concerns amid the fighting
between Israel and Hamas.
Lufthansa and Air Berlin extended their cancel-
lations through today and Air France said it was sus-
pending its flights "until further notice."
The European Aviation Safety Agency late Tuesday
said it "strongly recommends" that airlines refrain
from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv. It said
it would "monitor the situation and advise on any
update as the situation develops."
EASA acted after the US Federal Aviation Admin-
istration prohibited American-based airlines from
flying to the airport following a Hamas rocket explo-
sion nearby. The FAA was expected to issue a new
statement later Wednesday.
Lufthansa said its decision applies also to its sub-
sidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and
Brussels Airlines. In all, 20 flights from Frankfurt,
Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Vienna and Brussels were
cancelled for today.
The airline initially had suspended flights for 36
hours. Those cancellations were extended because
"at the current time there is no sufficiently reliable
new information that would justify a resumption of
air operations," Lufthansa said.
Air Berlin said it is continuing to evaluate the sit-
uation to determine whether further cancelations
KLM, Alitalia and Scandinavian Airlines were
among other European airlines that also canceled
flights Tuesday and Wednesday. Polish airline LOT
said it would suspend flights to Israel until the end
of July 28.
British Airways, however, said it hasn t cancelled
any of its twice-a-day Tel Aviv flights and had no
immediate plans to do so.
Aviation security expert Chris Yates said British
Airways would have assessed the situation with input
from the intelligence services and ultimately concluded
there was an acceptable level of risk. He said this
may be because the rockets from Gaza "are fairly
rudimentary and can t be targeted easily at planes
Yates said other airlines might have cancelled flights
fearing the possibility that rockets could strike their
plane on approach or take off, but that Israel s Iron
Dome defence system makes that very unlikely. (AP)
US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages
an immediate, lasting truce.
In Jerusalem, Kerry said negotiations
toward a Gaza ceasefire were making some
progress as he met for a second time this
week with Ban. "We certainly have made
steps forward," Kerry said. "There s still
work to be done."
White House deputy national security
adviser Tony Blinken meanwhile said Hamas
must be denied the ability to "rain down
rockets on Israeli civilians."
On the ground, meanwhile, Israeli troops
backed by tanks and aerial drones clashed
with Hamas fighters armed with rocket-
propelled grenades and assault rifles on the
outskirts of Khan Younis, killing at least
eight militants, according to a Palestinian
The Palestinian Red Crescent was trying
to evacuate some 250 people from the area,
which has been pummeled by air strikes
and tank shelling since early yesterday.
Hundreds of residents of eastern Khan
Younis were seen fleeing their homes as the
battle unfolded, flooding into the streets
with what few belongings they could carry,
many with children in tow. They said they
were seeking shelter in nearby UN schools.
"The airplanes and airstrikes are all around
us," said Aziza Msabah, a resident of Khan
Younis. "They are hitting the houses, which
are collapsing upon us."
Israel also struck the Wafa hospital in
Gaza City, which the military says houses
a Hamas command centre. Basman Ashi,
the medical center s director, said all 97
patients and staff were evacuated following
Israeli warnings and that no one was hurt
in the attack. Israel said five more of its sol-
diers have died in the conflict, bringing the
military s death toll to 32, without providing
further details. (AP)
Tel Aviv flights
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