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U.S. urges Palestinians, Israelis to end violence

(Xinhua)

14:40, March 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government on Monday urged the Palestinians and the Israelis to end violence as the ongoing conflicts between Israel and militants in Gaza entered its fourth day.

At a regular briefing, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the United States wants to see an end of violence, urging both sides to "make every effort to restore calm," although he reiterated that Israel has the right to self-defense.

When asked specifically if Washington wants both rockets attacks from Gaza and the Israeli airstrikes to cease, Toner said "Yes, we want to see an end to the violence."

Fighting between Israel and Gaza militants entered the fourth day on Monday, as 25 Palestinians have been killed and over 70 injured so far in Israeli airstrikes.

The escalation of conflicts broke out when an Israeli war jet struck a car in southern Gaza city on Friday afternoon and killed the general command of the pro-Hamas Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

Militant groups, mainly the PRC and the Islamic Jihad, fired more than 180 rockets from the coastal enclave into southern Israel, which in turn carried out 37 airstrikes on various targets to prevent the militants.

Around 18 people in Israel were injured, including some Thai workers.

Toner noted that the escalation of violence demonstrated the need for a comprehensive Middle East peace deal of which the negotiating process has long been in an impasse.

"We need to get both sides back to the negotiating table so that we can come up with a comprehensive settlement," he said.

Also on Monday, the Middle East Quartet, which brings together the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations, issued a statement in New York, calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from "provocative actions."

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