Jun 26, 2022
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United States President Barack Obama has called on Israel and the Palestinians to restrain themselves tensions between the two sides quickly escalates. The president’s comments is one of the first public statements made by Obama since the murder of three Israeli youth by Hamas terrorists in June.

In an op-ed published by Ha’aretz, Obama referred to the vicious murders of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach as tragic. He condemned the murder of an Arab teen who died in an apparent revenge attack by fringe extremists in Israel.

The president called upon “all parties” to “protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not with vengeance and retribution.” Obama, who referred to briefly the escalation of violence as a “dangerous moment,” reiterated the US’s support of Israel’s national security.

The president offered high praise for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying “Israel has a counterpart committed to a two-state solution and security cooperation with Israel.” He offered no praise for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama called on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians and support the Palestinians “right to self-determination.” He asked both sides to “take risks for peace” in order to create “two states for two peoples.”

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The president’s comments come on the same day that Israel announced the launch of Operation Protective Edge, a sweeping counter-offensive against terrorists in Gaza who continue to barrage Israel with rocket fire.

In the last 24 hours, more than 100 rockets have been shot towards Israel. The Iron Dome Missile Defense system has intercepted rockets over major southern cities in Israel, including Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israeli security leaders on Tuesday that the “gloves are off” when it comes to Hamas.

“Hamas chose this escalation and will pay a heavy price,” he stated.

Black smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on the Gaza International Airport in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 7, 2014. Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed eight Palestinian militants, after tunnels collapsed in Rafah. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Black smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on the Gaza International Airport in Rafah, southern Gaza, on July 7, 2014. Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed eight Palestinian militants, after tunnels collapsed in Rafah. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Operation Protective Edge, which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was preceded by an IDF call up of 1,500 reservists. Reports indicate that the IDF has called up several thousand more reservists to the Gaza border.

US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the rocket attacks against Israel on Monday. “Anytime there are rocket attacks into Israel, we certainly condemn those…there’s no place for violence and increasing tensions as we’re seeing on the ground.”

“We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel, but we also support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” she added.

Psaki reiterated Obama’s call for restraint. Referring to a phone call between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Netanyahu, Psaki explained that “the focus was on reiterating our concern about escalating tensions. And the Secretary, of course, urge Prime Minister Netanyahu…to exercise restraint and avoid steps that could further destabilize the situation.”