Washington : The US has urged Israel to avoid harming civilians as it conducts military attacks against Hamas in the Gaza Strip but stood behind the Jewish state's right to defend itself.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Monday said Israel should "take all possible actions" to prevent civilian casualties and damage to Palestinian infrastructure and to ensure the Israeli-Palestinian peace process stays on track.
The Israeli military pressed ahead with air strikes Monday against Hamas and Islamic Jihad following a series of rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israeli territory.
"Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself," McCormack said.
Five Palestinians were killed and six others injured in five attacks Monday. The dead included four senior Islamic Jihad militants who were killed when their car was hit by a helicopter-fired missile. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the targets were in charge of the production of locally-made al-Quds rockets used against Israel.
McCormack said the Israeli strikes and the loss of innocent life shows the difficulties associated with "trying to go after those who will use violent extremism, use terror against innocent civilian populations and then embed themselves in another innocent civilian population."