Obama tells Israel Gaza truce needed as conflict rages

US President Barack Obama urged an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce and the raging conflict entered its third week Monday. Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and “made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement” brokered by Egypt. According to a White House statement, the US president stressed the need to “ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza,” while reiterating “serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.” Israeli media meanwhile said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet was holding a meeting extending from Sunday evening into Monday to discuss the next steps in Gaza.

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