John Kerry defends Israeli effort to stem rocket, tunnel attacks

Written by Reuters | Washington | Updated: Jul 21 2014, 01:32am hrs
The United States believes Israel has a right to defend itself from rockets fired from Gaza and from attacks launched from cross-border tunnels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

"You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels," Kerry told Fox News. "We completely support that. And we support Israel's right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in."

Israel, which has accused Palestinian militant group Hamas of using civilians as human shields by launching rockets from residential areas, sent ground forces into the Gaza Strip on Thursday after 10 days of air, naval and artillery barrages failed to stop the salvoes.

At least 62 Palestinians were killed on Sunday in Israeli shelling of one Gaza neighborhood.

Kerry called on Hamas to consider a ceasefire. "It is important for Hamas to now step up and be reasonable and understand that (if) you accept the ceasefire, you save lives," he said.

In a separate interview on CNN, Kerry said President Barack Obama will ask him to go to the Middle East soon to aid in efforts to secure a ceasefire.