WASHINGTON - US continues to back Israel as Operation Pillar of Defense enters its fourth day: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US President Barack Obama on Friday night to update him on the situation in Israel and Gaza.
In the second conversation between the two leaders in the past 48 hours, Obama reiterated US support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
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The White House said in a statement that the president expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, and that the two leaders discussed options for de-escalating the situation.
Netanyahu "expressed his deep appreciation to the president and the American people for the United States’ investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which has effectively defeated hundreds of incoming rockets from Gaza and saved countless Israeli lives."
Obama, Erdogan call for end to violence
The American president also called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to discuss the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The White House said in a statement that "the two leaders shared their concerns about the dangers to civilian populations on both sides and expressed their common desire to see an end to the violence.
"The president and prime minister agreed that the continued spiral of violence jeopardizes prospects for a durable, lasting peace in the region. The president underscored his commitment to advancing the goal of Middle East peace. "
Earlier Friday, Erdogan decried Israel's airstrikes on as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo this weekend.
"Before this election they (Israel) shot these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated," he told reporters in Istanbul. "The dominant world powers are now making the Gaza people and fighters pay, and as the Republic of Turkey we are with our brothers in Gaza and their just cause."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Singapore, discussed the Gaza issue on the phone with a number of officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Jordan's King Abdullah, in an attempt to pressure Hamas to stop the rocket fire.
Clinton was briefed on Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr.
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State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who was asked Friday whether the US supported an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, said that Israel had the right to defend itself.
British Foreign Minister William Hague commented on the issue as well on Friday, saying that once Israel launched a ground offensive, it would lose sympathy.
Nuland added that the Americans were working to calm the situation down and help reach a truce through diplomacy.
The US House of Representatives decided Friday to unanimously support Israel, after a similar resolution was introduced by the Senate on Thursday.
According to the resolution, the House of Representatives firmly supports Israel's right to defend itself and its citizens against acts of terror.
Reuters contributed to this report