Obama Raises Concerns On Growing Casualties In Call With Netanyahu

07/20/2014 02:26 pm ET | Updated Jul 21, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday about Israel's ground operation in Gaza, the White House said in a statement.

According to the White House, Obama raised concerns about the number of casualties in recent days. As the New York Times reported, Sunday marked the deadliest day in the conflict so far, with 87 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers killed.

"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. "The President also raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers."

The president also said Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to Cairo, Egypt in order "to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement."

During the call, Netanyahu thanked Obama for his support.

Sunday's call was the second between the two leaders in three days. During a Friday call, Obama urged Netanyahu to minimize civilian deaths.

"We've indicated although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels," Obama told reporters Friday. "And we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties."

Earlier Sunday, Kerry, apparently unaware that he was being recorded prior to an interview with Fox News, candidly expressed his exasperation with the growing number of casualties.

"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation. It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," Kerry said to an off-camera aide. "We've got to get over there ... I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around."

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