Jul 16, 2014

By Michael Kramer

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The Israeli military has agreed to a five-hour pause in its strikes on Gaza – to allow Palestinians to restock supplies.

The brief cease-fire will begin tomorrow at 5 a-m Eastern Time.

It was arranged by the United Nations.

But Israel warns that it will retaliate if Hamas or others launch attacks during the pause.

Meanwhile – – U.S. President Barack Obama says America will use all of its diplomatic resources and relationships to secure a deal on a more-lasting cease-fire.

Obama says the U.S. supports Egypt’s continued efforts to restore the 2012 cease-fire and he says the U.S. is working with its partners in the region to secure a cease-fire and will stay in close contact over the next 24 hours.

Obama says Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But in remarks today at the White House, he’s also lamenting the deaths of civilians in Gaza and stressing the need to protect civilians there and in Israel – and to avoid further escalation.

Still with Obama – – the President says the U.S. is slapping Russia with new economic sanctions – because of its failure to defuse tensions with Ukraine.

The sanctions target leading Russian energy firms and financial institutions, and Russian companies that make weapons. Officials say their ability to access U.S. capital markets will be limited.

An adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin and three other individuals were also targeted.

At a summit in Brussels, European leaders also ordered stepped-up economic sanctions on Russia.

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