(WASHINGTON.CBSLOCAL) — TEL AVIV, Israel — Secretary of State John Kerry defied a Federal Aviation Administration ban and flew into Israel’s main airport Wednesday in a sign of sheer will to achieve a cease-fire agreement in the warring Gaza Strip despite little evidence of progress in ongoing negotiations aimed at halting fighting that’s left at least 31 Israelis and 650 Palestinians dead.

Kerry’s arrival in Israel came as Israeli troops battled Hamas militants near a southern Gaza Strip town as dozens of Palestinian families trapped by the fighting scrambled to flee the area.

It also came as Israel closed the border crossing into Gaza at Erez “until further notice,” citing the heavy fighting.

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