by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The United States Sunday began to push for a ceasefire in Gaza amid an Israeli ground war aimed at halting rocket attacks against Israel's civilian population.
The sudden outbreak of violence came just months after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's failed attempt to broker a peace deal, and after U.S. President Barack Obama's offer earlier this month to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides before the ground war began.
The U.S. State Department on Sunday released a statement calling for a "ceasefire as soon as possible," adding John Kerry would travel on Monday to Egypt to discuss the pressing situation with senior officials there.
But experts said Israel believes it is crucial to stop the rocket attacks on its citizenry, and the Jewish state does not trust Hamas to abide by any ceasefire.
Ariel Cohen, principal of International Market Analysis, an energy and raw materials political risk advisory, told Xinhua that Israel is unlikely to stop the operations until its military objectives are met, adding that no sovereign state would accept rocket attacks within its territory.
The U.S. has for more than a decade made attempts to cut a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, but time after time efforts have fallen flat.
Moreover, Secretary Kerry's trip to Egypt Monday to push for a ceasefire may not bear much fruit, as Egypt has lost much credibility with the Palestinians.
Indeed, perhaps the most serious problem in ending this round of fighting is the new government in Cairo, as Egypt was the key intermediary in truce talks in 2012. While ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi could engage Hamas with great credibility, current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a dogged opponent of Islamist militant groups including Hamas, has no such access, said Wayne White, former deputy director of the U.S. State Department's Middle East Intelligence Office.
As for the U.S., Washington's credibility with the Palestinians has eroded since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War when former U.S. President Richard Nixon set up an airlift to provide critical military aid to Israel. More recently, since the 1997-2000 collapse of the 1990's Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Palestinians' image of the U.S. has been hurt because of Washington's close ties with Israel regardless of recent hardliner governments, White noted.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, active U.S. opposition and military action against Islamic militants that stem from similar roots as Hamas has forced the U.S. to deal with Hamas from afar through intermediaries. The U.S. is also one of the nations embargoing Hamas, White noted.
On Friday, Obama told reporters he supports Israel's ground incursion, but urged the Jewish state to minimize civilian casualties in a conflict that has already caused around 400 collateral deaths of Palestinian civilians.