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Nearly 400 People Take Off From JFK To Immigrate To Israel

Nearly 400 people from across the U.S. and Canada left to immigrate to Israel on Monday, July 21. (Credit: CBS 2)

Nearly 400 people from across the U.S. and Canada left to immigrate to Israel on Monday, July 21. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Despite an ongoing and bloody conflict, hundreds of families left the United States to immigrate to Israel on Monday afternoon.

Nearly 400 people from across the United States and Canada gathered Monday for a farewell ceremony at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Before boarding the charter flight Monday, the group was briefed on security measures and what steps to take when air raid sirens sound to warn of incoming rockets.

“This is a celebration — a celebration of our people’s resilience, perseverance and determination,” said Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni.

It was difficult for some people to part with their loved ones.

“I’m nervous. I’m really excited for them, because I know it’s really where they belong, but it’s hard,” one woman said. “It’s hard to let them go.”

The group included 100 children who were immigrating with their parents.

On Monday, the top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signaled Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel’s defense minister pledged to keep fighting “as long as necessary” – raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks, CBS News reported.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday to launch a new push to end the deadliest conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in just over five years.

Kerry said that the U.S. is providing $47 million to help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza, CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reported.

Meanwhile, cross-border fighting continued unabated, with Israeli strikes leaving entire families buried under rubble and Hamas militants firing more than 50 rockets and trying to sneak into Israel through two tunnels, the latest in a series of such attempts.

For the second day in a row, the daily Palestinian death toll surpassed 100 on Monday, pushing the total number killed since the new round of fighting began on July 8 to more than at least 570, Palestinian officials said, adding that some 3,350 have been wounded.

Seven Israeli soldiers also were killed Monday in clashes with Palestinian militants, the Israeli military said. That raised the overall Israeli death toll to 27, including two civilians. The Israeli military said four soldiers were killed in a firefight with Hamas fighters trying to sneak into Israel through a tunnel, and that the other three were killed in battles in Gaza.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)