The U.S. State Department confirmed on Sunday night that Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to Cairo on Monday, where he will meet with senior officials from Egypt and other countries about bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza.
“The United States – and our international partners – are deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life,” said a statement from State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“We believe there should be a ceasefire as soon as possible – one that restores the ceasefire reached in November of 2012. Secretary Kerry is working to support Egypt’s initiative to pursue that outcome, and will travel to the region as part of those efforts,” she added.
Earlier on Sunday, President Barack Obama called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.
Obama spoke by telephone with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to express his concern after more than 100 Palestinian Arabs and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in one day.
Obama, who also condemned attacks by Hamas on Israel, “raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers,” the White House said in a statement quoted by AFP.
During their second call in three days about the escalating situation in Gaza, Obama and Netanyahu “discussed Israel’s ongoing military operation,” including “the loss of Israeli soldiers,” the White House added.
It said Obama “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.”
The White House said Kerry will seek “an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement” and stressed the need to protect civilian life both “in Gaza and in Israel.”
During the two leaders’ previous call, which was held on Friday, a siren could be heard in the background as Hamas fired rockets on Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu remarked to Obama that this is the reality in which Israelis have been living recently, and Obama later mentioned the siren when speaking to reporters, saying that “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory.”
Kerry will be coming to the region one day after he was caught on a hot microphone while expressing an unfavorable reaction to Israel’s operation in Gaza.