President Barack Obama defended Kerry Friday even as he derided the notion that the United States had lost influence or that it can solve every problem. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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The U.S failure to secure a firm cease-fire in the Gaza Strip despite two weeks of intense diplomacy reflects new regional dynamics in which the world's most powerful actor has diminished influence and fewer allies.When Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington on July 21 on a mission to try to halt the latest Israeli-Palestinian war, more than 400 Palestinians had been killed, mostly civilians, along with 20 Israelis, 18 of them soldiers. Israel declared a 72-hour Gaza cease-fire over Friday within hours of its taking effect, saying that Hamas militants breached the truce soon after it began and apparently captured one Israeli officer while killing two others.In Israel, hostile media reports, apparently fanned by Israeli officials, harshly attacked the U.S. secretary of state as he left the region.The scale of the casualties -- more than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, as well as 63 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians -- makes it harder for each side to disengage without something to show for the bloodshed.
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