WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is stepping up efforts to forge a truce between Israel and the militant Hamas movement by sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to bolster regional efforts to reach a ceasefire.
The State Department said Kerry would leave early Monday for Egypt where he will join diplomatic efforts for a truce.
Cairo has offered a cease-fire plan that is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal.
Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt.
More than 430 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed over the last two weeks.