US concerned about Gaza deaths

The US State Department expressed concern Friday with the loss of life in Israel's campaign in Gaza and urged the Israeli government to make sure innocent civilians were not hurt and the Palestinians' day-to-day lives not impaired. At the same time, the department called for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Palestinian extremists, and said the hostage-taking by Hamas "continues to place innocent Palestinians in harm's way." "There is no question that Israel has a right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens," said spokeswoman Julie Reside. "But we also urge the Israeli government to ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed, to exercise restraint and to refrain from adversely affecting the Palestinian humanitarian situation."