US Lifts Flight Ban as Gaza Death Toll Passes 700
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The US lifted a flight ban to Israel as Washington's top diplomat cited progress in ending 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza which has killed 718 Palestinians.
The ban was lifted just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up talks in Jerusalem, al-Quds, and Ramallah and returned to Cairo to continue pushing regional efforts to ink a ceasefire.
"The FAA has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport," the US national aviation agency said early Thursday, two days after imposing a ban on commercial flights when a rocket hit a house very close to the runways.
But it warned the situation was still "very fluid" as the fighting raged on in Gaza. There was no immediate word on whether European airlines would follow suit.
Meanwhile on the ground, 21 people were killed as Israel continued to strike Gaza, among them a family of six, including a 5-year-old girl and boy of three.
And the Red Cross said it had negotiated agreement with the two sides to take a convoy of 10 ambulances into the battered Khuzaa district, close to the southern city of Khan Younes, which has seen intensive fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters over the past 24 hours.
A similar rescue mission Wednesday enabled medics to evacuate 150 people from Khuzaa, among them many women and children, 70 from the northern town of Beit Hanun and another group of people from Shejaiya near Gaza City, including an entire family of 11, ICRC spokeswoman Cecilia Goin told AFP.
Palestinian medics said Israeli attacks Thursday hiked the death toll to 718 with a Gaza-based rights group saying more than 80 percent of them were civilians.