Israeli Army Chief Nixes Iran Nuke Talks in U.S. Due to Gaza Flare-up

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File photo: Aviv Kochavi holds a press conference in Tel Aviv.
File photo: Aviv Kochavi holds a press conference in Tel Aviv. Credit: Oded Balilty / AP

Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has decided to cancel his trip to the United States to discuss Iran and the ongoing nuclear talks with world powers following the escalating tensions with Gaza over the weekend, the IDF spokesperson unit said Sunday.

Military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman and the head of the army's Iran-focused Strategic and Third Ring Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman will fly in Kochavi's place on Sunday evening to Washington to hold several meetings with senior U.S. army officials.

On Saturday evening, two rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, a day after Israel struck targets in the Strip following a barrage of 36 rockets that were fired at Israel.

One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome, while the other fell in an open area near the border fence.

Following an emergency security meeting on Saturday over riots in Jerusalem and the subsequent Gaza escalation, senior Israeli security officials said that if the violence and tensions in Jerusalem persist, Israel is likely to witness deterioration across the country, and that the unrest could spread beyond its borders. 

Also on Saturday, around 700 Palestinians protested along the Gaza border, the Israeli army said. The protesters burned tires and attempted to approach the fence. The army said that they responded with riot dispersal methods.

Israel had its most significant standoff with the Gaza Strip in months on Friday night, leading to Israel striking Hamas positions in the enclave.

The IDF reported early Saturday morning that its jets struck Hamas' underground infrastructure and rocket launchers in Gaza. Sources in the strip also reported shelling at a Hamas position east of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

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