Kerry calls for ‘precise’ Israeli operation in Gaza

US state secretary reaffirms strong support for Israel's ‘right to defend’ itself against ‘threats’

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel to ‘limit’ collateral damage in Gaza, urging the Jewish state to be ‘precise’ in its ground assault on the Palestinian territory.

Hours before Kerry's phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel launched a ground operation aimed at hitting the Hamas group. In his call with Netanyahu, Kerry emphasized the need to avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible.

Kerry also emphasized to reinforce 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, a State Department statement said.

In turn, the Israeli leader stressed to Kerry the ‘imminent threat’ to Israeli ‘civilians’ posed by Hamas tunnels from the Gaza Strip to Israel, according to the statement. Kerry reaffirmed strong support for Israel's right to defend itself against ‘threats’ emanating from tunnels into Israel and expressed view that this should be a precise operation to target tunnels, according to his office.

“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.” Hamas had rejected a ceasefire intended to start on Tuesday and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities.

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Aaj Kal