President Obama spoke about the Israeli-Gaza conflict on Sunday, warning that an incursion into the Gaza strip by Israeli forces would only deepen the crisis’ death toll.
Obama defended Israel’s right to defend itself, also cautioning Palestinians that the crisis could crush hopes for peace in the area for years, reports Boston.com. The US president stated:
“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory … If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable. It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”
President Obama’s comments came as Israel’s campaign against Hamas, which began on Wednesday, expanded its targets. The nation is also at a crossroads of whether it will launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip or pursue Egyptian-led truce efforts.
Obama’s remarks both sought to defend the US ally’s reason for launching the “Pillar of Defense” campaign, but also to push for a halt to the violence, which has caused casualties on both sides.
USA Today notes that President Obama made the remarks during a trip to Thailand, also defending his decision to visit Myanmar, also called Burma. He will be the first US president to visit the country, which is moving from a brutal region towards democracy, though it still holds political prisoners and livest with ethnic violence.
Obama stated of his trip to the nation, “This is not an endorsement of the Burmese government. This is an acknowledgement that there is a process underway inside that country that even a year and a half, two years ago, nobody foresaw.”
The president’s remarks also come on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the country is prepared to significantly expand its military operation in Gaza.
President Obama has been lobbying Netanyahu and the leaders of Egypt and Turkey to try and halt the crisis. He added that Palestinians will have no chance of pursuing peace and their own state as long as long as rockets are being fired into Israel.