(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The US on Tuesday said it is "very concerned" about renewed violence between Israel and Gaza, and called for an "immediate end to rocket fire and hostilities, and a return to ceasefire talks." State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf reaffirmed the US position that "Israel has a right to defend itself," and said both parties should "reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire or, if necessary, agree to yet another extension of their temporary ceasefire, so they can continue in conversation." With thousands of Palestinians having fled their homes over the past six weeks, Harf acknowledged "there is quite a serious internally displaced persons situation in Gaza right now." She added the US wants "a sustainable ceasefire in place is so we can partner with the UN and other countries to begin rebuilding Gaza to help address the humanitarian situation." As for the three-member panel set up by the UN to look into possible war crimes during the conflict, Harf said any attempt by the Palestinians "to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) - will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they actually are working right now to try to make peace." She noted the US has already "called on [the Israelis] to do an open and transparent and thorough investigation," and said she "cannot envision a scenario in which we would not veto" a Security Council resolution calling for Israel to be investigated for war crimes.
Meanwhile human rights organizations have also been refused entry to Gaza.
"We are aware of the reports that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been restricted from entering Gaza," said Harf. "Of course the government of Israel can speak to decisions they make regarding access to Gaza through this particular crossing point" but as a matter of principle, we support the efforts to civil society to monitor the effects of armed conflict, including in Gaza."