The United States reaffirmed its stance that Israel has a right to defend itself but called on its close ally to restrict itself to a "precise operation" as the Jewish state launched a ground campaign in Gaza.
The State Department said that during a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "explained his decision to launch an operation to target the threat of further terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel."
"The secretary reaffirmed our strong support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist threats emanating from tunnels into Israel and expressed our view that this should be a precise operation to target tunnels, as described in a statement from the Israeli Defense Forces," the department said in a statement released late on Thursday.
It said Kerry emphasized during the call the need to "avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 cease-fire as soon as possible."
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