The Biden administration says their short term goal amid the Israel-Palestinian conflict is to work with other Middle East countries to de-escalate tensions.
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Many world leaders have condemned the violence and urged restraint, and a visit by Egyptian security officials was a significant development in international efforts to bring about a cease-fire; such efforts have been key to ending past rounds of fighting.
The officials met first with Hamas leaders in Gaza before holding talks with the Israelis in Tel Aviv, two Egyptian intelligence officials said.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Still, both Israel and Hamas seemed determined to press ahead.
This comes as Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and called up 9,000 more reservists.
The relentless escalation of hostilities came even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person talks with the two sides, intensifying efforts at mediation.
Previous fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including a devastating 2014 war, was largely confined to the impoverished and blockaded Palestinian territory and Israeli communities on the frontier.
But this round seems to be rippling farther and wider than at any time since the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll has climbed to 87 Palestinians, including 18 children and eight women, with 530 people wounded. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while Hamas has acknowledged 13 of its militants killed, including a senior commander. Israel says the number of militants dead is much higher.
Seven people have been killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also spoke about Ohio holding a lottery to reward those who come forward to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine unrolled the incentives that include a weekly $1 million lottery prize and drawings for college scholarships.