John Kerry describes Gaza conflict as a 'dangerous moment'


3:55PM BST 10 Jul 2014
John Kerry described the crisis in Gaza as a “dangerous moment” on Thursday, but refrained from offering to visit the Middle East despite a warning from the United Nations of another “full-blown war”.
During a visit to China, the US secretary of state made his first public comment on the conflict in Gaza, which has claimed at least 75 Palestinian lives since Tuesday. By Thursday, Israel had carried out 780 air strikes on targets across the territory and Hamas, the radical Islamist movement, had fired almost 400 rockets at Israeli population centres, including Tel Aviv.
Mr Kerry said that “de-escalating” the crisis was in the interests of both sides, adding that he had spoken by telephone to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. “We’re already engaged in trying to see if it is possible to bring an end to the violence and find a different way forward,” he said.
But Mr Kerry stressed that “no country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support completely Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.” He added that “de-escalation ultimately is in the interests of all parties, in the interests of the region, in the interests of Israel and the Palestinians.”
David Cameron offered Britain’s support to Israel during a telephone conversation with Mr Netanyahu. Downing Street said that the Prime Minister had “strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians” and “reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks”.
However, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, warned that the conflict had placed Gaza on a “knife-edge”, adding: “The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get beyond anyone’s control. The risk of violence expanding further is real. Gaza and the region as a whole cannot afford any other full-blown war.”