WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will use all its diplomatic resources and relationships to secure a deal on a cease-fire to end violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Obama said the U.S. supports Egypt's continued efforts to restore the 2012 cease-fire. He said the U.S. was working with its partners in the region to secure a cease-fire and would stay in close contact during the next 24 hours.
Obama said Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks, but also lamented the deaths of civilians in Gaza. He stressed the need to protect civilians in Gaza and in Israel and to avoid further escalation.
"There's no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets," Obama said at the White House.
"But over the past two weeks, we've all been heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza — men, women and children who were caught in the crossfire. That's why we have been working with our partners in the region to pursue a cease-fire, to protect civilians on both sides.
"Now, yesterday Israel did agree to a cease-fire. Unfortunately, Hamas continued to fire rockets at civilians, thereby prolonging the conflict."
The Israeli military has agreed to a U.N.-brokered five-hour "humanitarian" pause starting Thursday in its strikes on the Gaza Strip to allow Palestinians to restock food, water and other necessities. An attack Wednesday by an Israeli naval vessel killed four Palestinian boys playing on the beach.
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