Israel: FAA Travel Ban Set to Expire as Negotiations, Fighting Continue
The US Federal Aviation Agency’s 24-hour ban on travel into Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport is set to expire. It remains unclear why the Obama Administration decided to suddenly pull the plug on travel into Ben Gurion, as it is widely considered a sophisticated and secure airport. In 2009, the New York Times declared Ben Gurion the world’s safest airport and Israel’s El Al airlines the world’s safest airline. Israeli officials said US Airways and United Airlines are set to restart flights to Israel Wednesday. One-hundred sixty flights at Ben Gurion were canceled Wednesday.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian officials have agreed to reassess the initial Egyptian ceasefire proposal to end the Israel-Hamas conflict, one which was accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has defended his role as an honest intermediary for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. “Egypt has sacrificed, for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians, 100,000 martyrs” said Sisi, referring to Egypt’s losses in past wars with Israel. He continued, “So it is difficult for anyone to engage in one-upmanship, not just regarding [our role] with the Palestinian brothers but also the Arab region.” A Palestinian official told Ma'an News that much progress has been made in the negotiations. The encouraged Palestinian Authority representatives decided to extend their stay in Cairo following a progressive meeting with Hamas officials. The Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Israel and the Palestinians are “currently discussing serious ideas and proposals. We do not have an agreement in hand yet, but we are making every effort to move forward,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that some progress has been made in the negotiations. “We have certainly made some steps forward, but there is still work to be done,” Kerry said while in Jerusalem, Israel.
Israeli forces struck 70 separate targets in Gaza from midnight to 5:00 p.m. local time Wednesday. Since the IDF ground incursion into Gaza began, more than 28 distinct tunnel networks have been found underground in Gaza, along with 60 access points leading into the tunnels. According to Palestinian sources, 678 people have been killed in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge began two weeks ago.
The Red Cross brokered a humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas Wednesday in order to allow for the transportation of ambulances to retrieve the wounded in Gaza. “A convoy of seven ambulances and two red cross cars went inside Shujayyah to evacuate the wounded,” said a Red Cross spokesperson. Two separate ambulance convoys went into the cities of Khan Yunis and Beit Hanun in additional runs to retrieve more casualties of the ongoing battles.