Washington: As Israeli soldiers launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip to destroy Hamas` rocket-firing abilities, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid further escalation.
"The Secretary emphasised the need to avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible, reinforced our continuing commitment to the Egyptian initiative as the way to do so and underscored the importance of Hamas accepting this plan as soon as possible," State Department readout said.
During a telephonic conversation, Netanyahu described the attack near Kibbutz Sufa as the imminent threat to Israeli civilians posed by Hamas tunnels from the Gaza Strip.
"The Prime Minister explained his decision to launch an operation to target the threat of further terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel," it said.
Kerry reaffirmed America`s strong support for Israel`s right to defend itself against terrorist threats emanating from tunnels and expressed the view that this should be a precise operation to target tunnels.
"The Secretary also reiterated our concern about the safety and security of civilians on both sides and the importance of doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties," the readout said.
Meanwhile, the US Senate yesterday approved 498 resolution supporting Israel as it executes Operation Protective Edge against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
"The United States firmly and resolutely stands with Israel as it defends its citizens from an onslaught of unprovoked rocket fire launched by Hamas terrorists," Senator Robert Menendez said.
"While Israel had agreed to a cessation of hostilities and halted its military campaign to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, Hamas continued to terrorise Israel with a non-stop onslaught of rockets. Hamas uses civilians as protective shields and houses rockets in hospitals, schools, and mosques," he added.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Hamas rejected cease fire and used innocent Palestinians as human shields for their rocket launchers, and they brazenly launched a raid against an Israeli border town using an underground tunnel.
"Israel`s operation to clear out these border tunnels and other terrorist infrastructure that enable Hamas attacks reflects Israel`s right and moral obligation to protect its citizens," he said.