Israel: The US envoy has arrived in Tel Aviv for de-escalation talks as unrest between Israel and the Palestinians continues.
Hady Amr will take part in talks with Israeli, Palestinian, and UN officials and reinforce what US diplomats said was the need for a “sustainable calm”.
Israeli airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip killed 10 people on Saturday, while Palestinian militants there fired rockets into Israel with over 136 people so far killed in Gaza, and eight have died in Israel since the fighting began.
On Friday, clashes spread to the West Bank, with at least 11 Palestinians killed and hundreds injured. Israeli forces used tear gas, rubber bullets, and live fire, as Palestinians threw petrol bombs.
Saturday is the day when Palestinians commemorate what they call al-Nakba, the Catastrophe. It marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced or driven from their homes in the Arab-Israeli war which began the day after Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.
According to reports, ten people died in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, with seven killed by an Israeli airstrike at a refugee camp west of Gaza City.
An estimated 10,000 Palestinians have left their homes in Gaza since Monday because of the conflict, according to the UN report
Israeli officials reported about 200 rocket launches from Gaza overnight, with homes hit in the cities of Ashdod, Beersheba, and Sderot.
Mr. Amr’s arrival comes ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Sunday. The US embassy in Israel said the aim of his trip was to “reinforce the need to work toward a sustainable calm”.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has had to rapidly step up its game on the diplomatic front without a full team in place: there is not even a nominee yet for ambassador to Israel
Martin Indyk, who served as US ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration, believes there is a good chance the fighting will cease soon.
“I think that both sides have limited objectives and they’re essentially reaching the point where it doesn’t make sense, for either Hamas or [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu, to continue this war,” he said.
But veteran Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi says she does not hold much hope that Mr Amr’s involvement will lead to a stop in the fighting.
“Biden waited for a whole week before he sent a third, fourth-level, not even a third, fourth-level civil servant and you think the Israelis are going to listen?” she said.
“The Americans delayed the Security Council meetings. I think this is a sort of pro forma thing. If they really mean business then they can, at the highest level, come out and say ‘stop the shelling, stop the killing’.”