Several countries temporarily stop commercial air traffic to Israel
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle between Hamas and Israel raged on, and prompted some commercial airlines to cancel flights to Tel Aviv.By night, Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire kept up a heavy barrage in Gaza City. By day, Palestinians again counted casualties, now more than 600 dead, more than 500 homes destroyed, and raged against their attackers.
IHAB AL-BATSH (through interpreter): There is no excuse. They killed innocent children, women and elders who were using this building as shelter. They thought this place was safe.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hamas struck back with new rocket fire, hitting a house in Tel Aviv’s Yehud suburb and lightly wounding one Israeli. It was the closest strike yet to the Ben Gurion International Airport, and several U.S., European and Canadian airlines temporarily halted service to Israel.
The Israeli Transportation Ministry criticized the move, saying it would hand terror a prize. On the ground, military officials acknowledged the deaths of two more soldiers. They also announced a 21-year-old sergeant, Oron Shaul, is missing and presumed dead after a battle Sunday. Hamas had claimed it captured an Israeli soldier over the weekend.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep up the assault, after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Tel Aviv.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: What grievance can we solve for Hamas? Their grievance is that we exist. They don’t even want a two-state solution. They don’t want any state solution. In the face of such extremism, in the face of such violence, in the face of such terror, Israel has no option but to defend itself. This is what we are doing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary-General Ban, who will meet with the Palestinian prime minister in the West Bank tomorrow, urgently appealed for the shooting to stop.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General, United Nations: My message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same: Stop fighting. Start talking. And take on the root causes of the conflict, so we are not back to the same situation in another six months or a year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, in a videoconference with the U.N. Security Council, Ban said it’s his hope and belief the fighting will end in the very near future.
Meanwhile, in Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry continued the U.S. push for a cease-fire, meeting with Egypt’s leaders and the head of the Arab League.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: While we still obviously have work to do, it is also clear to me from each of the parties that I have met with that there is a framework available to end the violence, and that framework is the Egyptian initiative that has been put forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Egyptian cease-fire proposal is backed by both the U.S. and Israel, but has so far been rejected by Hamas. The militant group, with support from Turkey and Qatar, has demanded an end to the blockade that has crippled Gaza’s economy.