Israel must "do more" to protect civilians caught up in the crossfire of its assault on Hamas in the Gaza, the White House said Monday.
"We would like the Israelis to take even greater steps to ensure the protection of civilians," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. His comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the region to push for a ceasefire.
Reaffirming Israel's right to defend itself, Earnest said it was "unacceptable" for Hamas "to continue firing rockets squarely at Israeli civilians."
"At the same time, we also want to make sure that Israel is doing everything that they can to live up to their own standards related to protecting the welfare and well-being of innocent civilian bystanders," he added.
US President Barack Obama said earlier that he had dispatched Kerry, who was en route to Cairo, to push for an "immediate" ceasefire in the conflict.
Obama also said that while Israel has the right to defend itself against a barrage of Hamas rockets, Washington has "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 that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel," he said.
Approximately 550 Palestinians - mostly Hamas terrorists - and 27 Israelis have died since the operation began two weeks ago. Twenty-five of them were IDF soldiers.
It is unclear what else the US believes can be done to prevent the civilian casualties, after the IDF has proven over and over again that Hamas has been encouraging Gazans to become human shields.
Hamas has openly boasted about the "success" of its strategy of using civilians as human shields during Operation Protective Edge, which is now ending its tenth day, and the IDF has published extensive evidence of the practice.
Hamas has in the past urged Gazans to ignore warnings from the IDF about upcoming strikes, in remarks caught both on Hamas-sponsored television and on the radar of international media outlets.
Hamas's "Public Security Ministry" in Gaza even made official statements Thursday encouraging more civilians to refuse to heed IDF warnings ahead of a possible ground offensive.
In addition, several of the rockets fired from Gaza have never made it on to Israeli soil, and may be partially responsible for Palestinian Arab deaths from within Gaza itself.
By contrast, the IDF has dropped leaflets, sent phone messages, and issued general warnings to all civilians within range of upcoming airstrikes to prevent further harm.
To complicate matters, a close look at the casualties recorded on the Hamas side reveals that most of those "civilians" are likely terrorists, according to a report released last week by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
However, the evidence has not swayed international media from presenting a skewed view of the conflict.