Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night thanked US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself after a targeted IDF assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari in Gaza.

Obama expressed support for "Israel’s right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians," according to a White House press release.

In his conversation with Morsi, Obama reiterated Israel's right to self-defense and expressed hope that Egypt would play a stabilizing role in the region.

Earlier, the US State Department had issued a strong statement that condemned Hamas rocket attacks against Israel.

Its deputy spokesman Mark Toner said, “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”

For a timeline of the escalation in Gaza: click here

He added that regretted the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinians civilians.

“There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel.

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“We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately,” Toner said.

“Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination,” Toner said.

Netanyahu also spoke with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense hitting targets in Gaza, after Hamas and other terrorist groups pounded Israel with some 150 rockets in five days.

The Palestinian Authority and Egypt immediately condemned Israeli actions in Gaza and appealed to the UN Security Council, which held an emergency meeting on the matter Wednesday night.

Israel has launched a diplomatic offensive to explain to the world that the one million people who live down south cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks from Gaza “harming our citizens, while intentionally hiding behind their citizens.

“On the other hand, we avoid harming civilians as much as possible and that is one fundamental difference between us.

“They want to obliterate us from the face of the earth and they have no qualms about hurting civilians and innocents,” Netanyahu said.

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report

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