Gaza awaits Israeli ceasefire proposals
Earlier Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi said Israel’s “aggression” against Gaza will end tomorrow.
Mr Morsi did not provide any evidence to support his prediction that an end to Israel’s week-long offensive against Gaza was imminent. He only said negotiations between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers will yield “positive results” during the coming hours.
While the US has backed Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza, Washington has warned its ally against pursuing a ground assault that would further escalate the violence and could dramatically increase casualties on both sides.
Mr Obama spoke by phone for almost a half-hour with Mr Morsi, commending his efforts to de-escalate tensions.
Mrs Clinton is not heading to the Middle East with any specific proposal to broker a peace deal, US officials said. She will reassure Israel it has full American support while urging it to limit civilian casualties, and she will press members of the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank to influence its brethren in Gaza to halt the rocket fire.
In Cairo, she will strike a similar note by reminding the Egyptian government of its peace obligations with Israel under a treaty they share.
Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007.
Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.
Three Israeli civilians have also been killed and dozens wounded since the fighting began, the numbers possibly kept down by a rocket-defence system that Israel developed with US funding. More than 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israel this week, the Israeli military said.
In the latest attack a Palestinian rocket hit the outskirts of Jerusalem, landing harmlessly in an open area in one of the longest strikes fired from the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem, nearly 50 miles from Gaza, is the most distant city the militants have targeted, signalling an increasing sophistication in their arsenal.
The attacks aimed at Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area have dramatically showcased the militants’ new capabilities, including a locally made M-75 rocket that appears to have taken Israeli defence officials by surprise.