US Remains Committed to Israel-Hamas Ceasefire
Washington remained committed to pressing for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas Tuesday despite Palestinian terrorists rejecting a short-lived truce and launching dozens of rockets since a truce was meant to come into force this morning, eventually prompting Israel to resume airstrikes on terrorist targets in Gaza.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said as the Egyptian-drafted ceasefire plan was unveiled that he would be willing to return to the region at a moment's notice if it would help bring the parties to a truce.
But with the plan failing to end eight days of cross-border fire, Washington was still seeking a negotiated halt to the deadly attacks which have left at least 194 Palestinians and one Israeli dead.
"We're going to stay at it. The secretary (Kerry) will remain engaged with the parties," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
"In our view we need to all remember what's at stake here: we will continue to work for a ceasefire."
While Psaki stressed that President Barack Obama's administration's position remained that Israel has a right to defend itself, she said the goal was de-escalation on both sides.
She warned Washington's primary Mideast ally against any ground invasion of Gaza, saying Kerry would be "using every tool in our toolbox to return to the ceasefire."
And Psaki added that while Washington does not engage with Hamas, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organization, "there are countries in the region that are, that we remain engaged with."
The State Department official also condemned the civilian loss of life in the conflict.
"We've seen the reports of the number of Palestinian deaths, including children. That's horrific," Psaki said. "And that's why we want to see an end to what's happening on the ground and a return to the ceasefire."
But she gave no credence to reports that Israeli forces were intentionally targeting civilians in their attacks on Hamas operatives.
Reports since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge have illustrated how Hamas uses Gaza's civilian population as human shields - a practice which has been blamed for a large proportion of the civilian death which have occurred.
Earlier Tuesday, John Kerry condemned Hamas's rejection of the ceasefire.
"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort (to secure) a cease-fire," Kerry told reporters while at a meeting on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna.
"It is important for Hamas not to be provoking and purposefully trying to play politics in order to gain greater followers for it opposition, and use the innocent lives of civilians who may hide in buildings and use as shields and put in danger. That is against the laws of war," he said.