(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East with the hope that she can bring an end to the escalating violence that has gripped the region for the last week.
A deputy White House national security adviser said Clinton will depart on Tuesday from Cambodia, where she had accompanied Obama on a visit to Southeast Asia. She is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem later Tuesday night to meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
She will also meet with Palestinian officials in Ramallah before heading to Cairo to meet with leaders in Egypt.
A State Department official told ABC News that Clinton’s visit “will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days.”
On Monday, Obama called Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ways to reduce tensions and bring the fighting to a halt.
Earlier this week, Obama said Israel had a right to defend itself from rocket fire out of the Hamas-ruled territory.
With the death toll rising, Egypt accelerated efforts to broker a ceasefire on Monday. Anger boiled over in Gaza as the death toll passed 100 and the civilian casualties mounted. Volleys of Palestinian militant rockets flew into Israel as Israeli drones buzzed endlessly overhead and warplanes streaked through the air to unleash missile strikes.
An Israeli strike on a Gaza City high-rise Monday killed Ramez Harb, one of the top militant leaders of Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militant group said.
It is also the second high profile commander taken out in the Israeli offensive, which began seven days ago with a missile strike that killed Ahmed Jibari, Hamas’ top military commander.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio