US 'very concerned' about Gaza violence

The United States is "very concerned" over the latest trade of rocket fire between the Israelis and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and urged both sides to resume a ceasefire agreement, the White House said Friday.

Palestinian militants began firing rockets into Israel on Friday, shortly after the expiration of a three-day ceasefire agreement designed to enable peace negotiations in Egypt. 

Hamas has said they would be willing to re-enter talks if Israel made concessions on its economic embargo against Gaza, including allowing the construction of a seaport. Israel has said it will not negotiate while being fired upon.


"We call on all sides to cease hostilities immediately and resume cease-fire negotiations, and we continue to urge all parties to do all they can to protect the lives of innocent civilians," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Earnest said the decision by Hamas to resume attacks would "not only put the people of Israel and of Gaza at greater risk, it will do nothing to meet the expectations of the Palestinian people."

The White House said American diplomats were in Cairo to participate in the peace negotiations toward a "sustainable cease-fire agreement."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep disappointment" a the failure of the talks, a spokesman told The Associated Press.

"The secretary-general firmly calls on the parties not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. "He condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable."