US calls on Israel, Palestinians to end civilian deaths

US calls on Israel, Palestinians to end civilian deaths
2 min read
The State Department said civilian deaths in Gaza were 'deeply lamentable'.
At least 30 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed [Getty]
The United States on Tuesday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid "deeply lamentable" civilian deaths after air strikes by Israeli forces in response to rocket fire in Gaza.

"Israel does have a right to defend itself. At the same time reports of civilian deaths are something that we regret and would like to come to a stop," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"We don't want to see provocations. The provocations we have seen have resulted in a deeply lamentable loss of life," he said.

"We continue to call for calm, continue to call on all sides to de-escalate and to exercise restraint in their actions."

At least 30 people including children have been killed in Israel strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from Hamas, which said its attacks were meant to force Israeli forces out of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Israeli police have attached thousands of worshippers gathered in the mosque complex, which is Islam's third holiest site, in recent days.

At least three Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the crisis by telephone Tuesday with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Price said.

Blinken spoke to his counterpart to "condemn the rocket attack and to reiterate this important message of de-escalation," Price said.

The call came a day after Blinken reinforced a similar message as he met in Washington with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who urged preservation of the status quo in Jerusalem.

In Canada, like the United States a key ally for Israel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the violence "terrible".

"There needs to be de-escalation immediately. We need to see a cessation of violence and attacks," Trudeau told reporters.

"The rocket attacks from Hamas are absolutely unacceptable. We're also gravely concerned about the settlements and the evictions of Palestinians."

The Canadian prime minister was referring to attempts by Israeli authorities to expel several Palestinian families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, along with the Gaza Strip and West Bank, int he 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move widely regarded as illegal under international law.

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