U.S. President George W. Bush said Wednesday that he is "deeply saddened" by the killing of 18 Palestinian civilians during an Israeli raid in the Gaza Strip and called for a quick investigation.
"The United States is deeply saddened by the injuries and loss of life in Gaza today. We send our condolences to the families of all those affected," Bush said in a statement.
"We have seen the Israeli government's apology and understand an investigation has begun. We hope it will be completed quickly and that appropriate steps will be taken to avoid a repetition of this tragic incident," the statement said.
All parties should "act with care and restraint" in order to avoid civilian causalities, the statement added.
Israeli tanks attacked a residential neighborhood in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza early Wednesday, killing at least 18 people, including eight children.
Israel has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East and the United States has repeatedly supported Israel's military action against the Palestinians as defending itself from "terrorist" attacks.