White House: Israel has right to defend itself
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — The White House on Saturday defended Israel's right to defend itself against attack and decide how to respond to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, blaming the ruling Islamic militant Hamas group for starting the conflict.
Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in agreement that a de-escalation of the violence is preferred, provided that Hamas stops sending rocket into Israel, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during the president's flight on Air Force One to Asia.
Israel launched the offensive on Wednesday by assassinating Hamas' military commander, but Rhodes said the U.S. believes "the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe Israel has a right to defend itself, and they'll make their own decisions about the tactics they use in that regard."
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