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Obama: Israel Has a Right to Defend Itself

President Obama says Washington supports Israel’s right to defend itself, adds he is "heartbroken" by deaths of civilians in Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/17/2014, 4:12 AM

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday reiterated that Washington supports Israel’s right to defend itself from Gaza rocket attacks, as he said he and the world were "heartbroken" by the deaths of civilians in Gaza.

According to AFP, Obama also said he backed Egypt's efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, offering Washington's full diplomatic support.

"We're going to continue to encourage diplomatic efforts to restore the ceasefire, and we support Egypt's continued efforts to bring this about," Obama told reporters in a wide-ranging foreign policy statement.

"Over the next 24 hours, we'll continue to stay in close contact with our friends and parties in the region, and we will use all of our diplomatic resources and relationships to support efforts of closing a deal on a ceasefire," he added.

Obama said the Jewish state has "a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people."

"There's no country on earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets," he added, praising Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has proven very effective in intercepting rockets aimed at populated areas and which received a 50 percent funding boost from the Senate on Tuesday.

"The Israeli people and the Palestinian people don't want to live like this. They deserve to live in peace and security free from fear," declared Obama.

Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was doing "everything in our power" to end the bloodshed in Gaza, as he kept up contacts with regional leaders.

"Our concern is to have a legitimate ceasefire and see if we can find a way to stop the conflict and killing so we can get to the real issues that are underlying it," Kerry told reporters.

"And we're doing everything in our power," he stressed.

Egypt's efforts to broker an end to the violence collapsed on Tuesday. Hamas, which rules Gaza and has fired more than 1,200 rockets into Israel, rejected the proposal on the grounds that it was not included in talks.

On Wednesday, however, it was reported that an Israeli delegation would visit Cairo on Thursday for talks on a ceasefire.