As Israel continued to pound Gaza, John Kerry arrived for cease-fire talks today, landing in Tel Aviv despite the FAA's 24-hour ban on US flights to Israel. The secretary of state, whose Air Force flight was not affected by the commercial ban brought in after a rocket hit a house near the airport, plans to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and other local leaders, reports the Washington Post. In other news:
- The Israel Airports Authority says the suspension of flights by American and European carriers has left thousands of Israelis stranded around the world and thousands of visitors stuck in Israel. Authorities say another airport in the country's southern region will be opened.
- The flight ban is a serious blow to Israel's economy, and Netanyahu asked Kerry last night to try to overturn it, reports the Guardian. A White House official, however, says, "We're not going to overrule the FAA. Period."
- Some 643 Palestinians have been killed so far in the 16-day conflict, authorities say, while 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed. The Israeli military says it's still trying to eradicate a huge network of tunnels under Gaza. "We are meeting resistance around the tunnels ... they are constantly trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend," a spokesman tells Reuters. He says 30 militants were killed overnight.
- In a move that could help bring about a cease-fire deal, there is now a unified Palestinian position, the BBC reports. Abbas says he supports Hamas' core demands, including an end to the economic blockade of Gaza.
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