Israel

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Egypt today in an effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would meet with Egyptian and other senior officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the army to send ground forces into Gaza Thursday night.

"We are hearing reports that so far the operation has been concentrated in the north," reports NPR's Emily Harris, who is in Gaza.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, called the invasion "a dangerous step. "The occupation will pay its price expensively, and Hamas is ready for confrontation," he said in a statement.

This post was updated at 4:10 p.m. ET: Ground Offenses Begin

Israel has sent ground forces into Gaza on Thursday, which we are covering in this post.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: Hostilities Resume

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has raised talk of his legacy, especially with respect to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Several groups of American scholars, including the American Studies Association, are calling for US universities to boycott their Israeli counterparts. The president of the University of Texas at Austin, William Powers, is hosting a conference of several key figures in higher education this week. One such figure, Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities, spoke with KUT's David Brown.

There's an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.

"Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia," he claims. "And it's not a joke."

But that oil will be difficult to reach, if it can be recovered at all. The oil he's talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry is nearing the end of a 10-day international economic opportunity tour with stops in London and Israel.

Perry took the opportunity to highlight the opening of a  Texas A & M University in Israel and looked to highlight Texas' financial successes, as well as recent resource and energy conservation solutions.

Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center near Damascus early Sunday, according to intelligence reports and Syrian state media. The attack prompted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad to deem it a "declaration of war" by Israel, CNN reports.

President Obama landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.

"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors," Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.

NPR's Larry Abramson, who's at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. has called the latest Israeli settlement plan "counterproductive," and now the Europeans have weighed in, with even more pointed criticism.

Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden were summoned Monday to hear opposition to the settlement plan.

After a week of bloodshed, Israel and fighters in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip agreed to "hold fire" beginning at 2 p.m. ET today, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced at a joint news conference this afternoon with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Egypt had been trying to broker a truce to end the exchange of rockets and air strikes between Israel and militants in Gaza.

We'll post more on the agreement, which was announced at 12:35 p.m. ET., as the story develops.

Update at 5:55 p.m. ET. 'A Tenuous Nature':

(We rewrote the top of this post at 6:55 p.m. ET to sum up the day's news.)

Diplomatic efforts accelerated and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the region on Tuesday, but despite the buildup, despite the rumors of imminent peace, there was no cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

(We rewrote the top of this post at 7:45 p.m. ET to sum up the day's news.)

The sixth day of Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip saw Israel striking a media center and other Palestinian targets, raising the Palestinian death toll to more than 100. Palestinian militants fired 95 rockets at Israel; a third of them were intercepted by Iron Dome, the Israeli missile shield. Also Monday, a flurry of diplomacy that attempted to mediate a cease-fire between the two sides.

Update at 3 p.m. ET. At Least 10 Dead; Israel Issues More Warnings:

As we've been reporting, Israel hit targets in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip today with multiple airstrikes. The Associated Press says at least 10 people were killed. Among them was Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas' military wing.

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