Obama expresses concern about Gaza casualties in call with Netanyahu

The president reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself and aims to broker a ceasefire agreement

Published July 20, 2014 8:49PM (EDT)

                          (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the second time in three days about the ongoing crisis in Gaza on Sunday, which has reportedly been the conflict's deadliest day yet, according to the New York Times. 87 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were reported dead, leading Obama to express concern over the growing number of both civilian and military casualties.

According to a statement from the White House, Obama raised serious concern about the death toll in Gaza, but also reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel. "The president discussed Israel’s ongoing military operation, reiterated the United States’ condemnation of attacks by Hamas against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself," the White House said. "President Obama also informed the prime minister that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement."

The call came after Secretary Kerry also expressed concern over the death toll in Gaza, when he was inadvertently caught on an open mic making a phone callto a top aide on "Fox News Sunday." Kerry called Israel's ground invasion a "hell of a pinpoint operation" and noted the need for a possible return to the Middle East. The president emphasized that when Kerry does return to the region in recent weeks, the U.S. plans to work closely with both sides to limit the number of additional casualties and seek an immediate ceasefire.

By Jenny Kutner

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Barack Obama Benjamin Netanyahu Casualties Ceasefire Diplomacy Gaza John Kerry