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Israel has right to defend itself, but must spare civilians: US

Published on Nov 15, 2012 6:09 AM
 
Israelis watch Defence Minister Ehud Barak on television as they prepare to sleep in a bomb shelter in the southern town of Netivot Nov 14, 2012.The United States on Wednesday threw its weight behind Israel after it launched a barrage of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, and condemned Palestinian militant rocket attacks on southern Israel. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday threw its weight behind Israel after it launched a barrage of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, and condemned Palestinian militant rocket attacks on southern Israel.

"We support Israel's right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," he added.

Israel killed a top Hamas military commander in a targeted air strike in Gaza on Wednesday, and warned that it was only the start of an operation targeting militant groups in Gaza, It also unleashed more than 20 air strikes in Gaza, prompting outrage from Palestinian militants who said the Jewish state had opened "the gates of hell."

 
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