WASHINGTON, July 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday reiterated his country's support for Israel, saying "Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas".
In his remarks Monday at the White House on Ukraine crisis and investigation into crash of Malaysia Airliner MH17, Obama said: " Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas's terrorist infrastructure in Gaza... We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives. That is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire that ends the fighting and can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel."
The Palestinian death toll topped 500 on Sunday as Israel pressed a ground offensive into Gaza Strip after two weeks of aerial attacks.
U.S. State Secretary John Kerry has left for Cairo to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after the civilian death toll in the conflict sharply escalated over the weekend.
Kerry will meet with allies and partners to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Obama explained.
The work will not be easy, Obama said. "Nevertheless, I've asked him (Kerry) to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We don't want to see anymore civilians getting killed."