Obama voices concern about casualties in Mideast

Obama voices concern approximately casualties in Mideast

President Barack Obama called Monday for the international community to focus on ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip, as Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the Middle East to make a renewed push for a cease-fire between Hamas & Israel.

Voicing fresh concern approximately civilian casualties, Obama reaffirmed his belief that Israel has the right to defend itself against rockets being launched by Hamas into Israel. Yet he contended that Israel’s military action in Gaza had already done “significant damage” to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure & said he doesn’t want to see more civilians getting killed.

“We have serious concerns approximately the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths & the loss of Israeli lives,” Obama said. “And that is why it now has to be our focus & the focus of the international community to bring approximately a ceasefire that ends the fighting & can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza & in Israel.”

p>As Obama spoke from South Lawn of the White House, Kerry was flying to Cairo, where he planned to join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012. He will urge the militant Palestinian group to accept a cease-fire agreement offered by Egypt that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting. More than 500 Palestinians & 27 Israelis have been killed in that time.

The Obama administration, including Kerry, is sharpening its criticism of Hamas for its rocket attacks on Israel & other provocative acts, like tunneling under the border. At the same time, the U.S. is publicly encouraging Israel to take further steps to prevent Palestinian deaths.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Israel & its military have standards for avoiding the deaths of innocent civilians, Israeli or Palestinian.

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President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Ukraine & Gaza, at the White House in …

“We would like to see Israel take greater steps to ensure that they’re adhering to those standards,” he said.

Two Americans, Max Steinberg of California & Nissim Carmeli of Texas, who fought for the Israel Defense Forces were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip. The State Department confirmed the names of the two U.S. citizens Sunday night.

Cairo’s cease-fire plan is backed by the U.S. & Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan & is relying on governments in Qatar & Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar & Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is moreover linked to Hamas yet banned in Egypt.

Making the rounds of Sunday talk shows, Kerry said Hamas needs to recognize its own responsibility for the conflict.

“It’s ugly. War is ugly, & offensive things are going to happen,” Kerry told ABC’s “This Week.”

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FILE – In this Thursday, April 24, 2014, file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Washing …

Both Obama & Kerry have said Israel has a right to defend itself Kerry accused Hamas of attempting to sedate & kidnap Israelis through a network of tunnels that militants have used to stage cross-border raids.

Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Hamas must “step up & show a level of reasonableness, & they need to accept the offer of a cease-fire.”

The nearly two-week conflict appeared to be escalating as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was already in the region to try to revive cease-fire efforts.

Obama, in a telephone call Sunday, told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Kerry was coming to the Mideast & condemned Hamas’ attacks, according to a White House statement.

The U.N. relief agency in Gaza estimates that 70,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in the fighting & are seeking shelter in schools & other shelters the United Nations has set up.

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Palestinians dance while flying a Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement flag reading in Arabic "th …

U.S. officials said Hamas could bring relief to the Palestinian people if it agrees to a cease-fire proposed by Egypt — a view Netanyahu is pushing as well.

Netanyahu said in an ABC interview that Israel has tried to avoid killing Palestinian civilians by making phone calls, sending text messages & dropping leaflets on their communities. But Hamas doesn’t “give a whit approximately the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said. “All they want is more & more civilian deaths.”

The prime minister said his top goal is to restore a sustainable peace, yet he then will ask the international community to consider demilitarizing Gaza to rid Hamas of its rockets & shut down the tunnels leading into Israel.

Kerry spoke Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” & “Fox News Sunday.”

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Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP

Politics & GovernmentUnrest, Conflicts & WarBarack ObamaJohn KerryHamasIsrael

Source: “Associated Press”

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