Washington ready to "leverage relations" for Gaza ceasefire
Hundreds of strikes and retaliatory rockets have been exchanged between Gaza and Israel over the past week (AFP)
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The United States said it is ready to "leverage its relationships" in the Middle East to end the Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Agence France Presse.
"There are a number of relationships the United States has that we are willing to leverage in the region to try to bring about an end to the rocket fire that's originating in Gaza and, as we saw this morning, in Lebanon," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
"We are interested in taking the kinds of steps that we did about a year-and-a-half ago in November of 2012 to facilitate a ceasefire and to try to get this situation back on the path of deescalation," he added.
Washington's statement comes a day after U.S. President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him that he would be personally willing to facilitate the ceasefire.
More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza this week from the Israeli airstrikes and hundreds more, including many women and children, have been wounded.
Washington's statement refers to the time that the U.S. and Egypt worked with Hamas and Israel to end the eight days of intensive fighting in 2012, but it is not yet clear if such an approach, particularly without former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi who had contacts with Hamas, would work in the current situation.
Despite such calls for a ceasefire, Earnest added that Israel has a "right to defend itself," but then added later in his commentary that both Palestinians and Israelis should "try to safeguard their civilians."
"It is evident that civilians have been killed, including children. That's tragic, and we offer our condolences to the families," Earnest said.