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Obama Has 'Serious Concerns' About Middle East Death Toll

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday warned that the United States has “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, the president said “it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.”

Obama noted that Secretary of State John Kerry has departed for the Middle East, where he has instructed Kerry to push for an immediate cease-fire.

“Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved. Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We don’t want to see anymore civilians getting killed,” Obama said.

Once again, the president reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself and said “as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”

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