President Barack Obama repeated on Monday that Israel had the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas militants but said he had serious concerns about the growing number of civilian casualties resulting from the conflict.

"We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians," he told reporters at the White House.

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