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US condemns rocket fire from Gaza into Israel

WASHINGTON, July 8 (KUNA) -- The US strongly condemns the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by "terrorist" organizations in Gaza, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
"No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks," Earnest said during a briefing.
US officials appreciate the call that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made publicly for parties in the conflict to act responsibly, Earnest said.
"We are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides," Earnest said. "This means both the residents of southern Israel who are forced to live under rocket fire in their homes and the civilians in Gaza who are subjected to the conflict because of Hamas' violence." Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Netanyahu a couple times over the weekend and reiterated the US' concern about escalating tensions "and our willingness to engage robustly in helping to stop the rocket fire and restore the 2012 cease-fire as soon as possible," Earnest said. "So these kinds of consultations are ongoing." It is not in the interest of either side for this violence to continue and even to escalate, he said.
"So we are hopeful that even as Israel exercises their right to self-defense that they will leave open a channel for diplomacy to prevail and for a cease-fire, or at least a de-escalation in the violence, to commence," Earnest said. (end) rm.bs