Gaza truce pressure builds
After six days of rocket fire, international pressure for a truce in the Gaza Strip intensifies.
GAZA/JERUSALEM - International pressure for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip puts Egypt's new Islamist president in the spotlight on Tuesday after a sixth day of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air strikes that have killed over 100 people.
Israel's leaders weighed the benefits and risks of sending tanks and infantry into the densely populated coastal enclave two months before an Israeli election, and indicated they would prefer a diplomatic path backed by world powers, including United States (US) President Barack Obama, the European Union and Russia.
Any such solution may pass through Egypt, Gaza's other neighbour and the biggest Arab nation, where the ousting of US ally Hosni Mubarak and election of President Mohamed Morsi is part of a dramatic reshaping of the Middle East, wrought by the Arab Spring and now affecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Morsi, who's Muslim Brotherhood was mentor to the founders of Hamas, took a call from Obama on Monday telling him the group must stop rocket fire into Israel - effectively endorsing Israel's stated aim in launching the offensive last week. Obama, as quoted by the White House, also said he regretted civilian deaths - which have been predominantly among the Palestinians.
"The two leaders discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel," the White House said.
"President Obama then called Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and received an update on the situation in Gaza and Israel. In both calls, President Obama expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives."
Three Israeli civilians and 108 Palestinians have been killed. Gaza officials say over half of those killed in the enclave were civilians, 27 of them children.