US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday (local time) spoke to Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and expressed his concerns over the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine, including the rocket attacks by the latter.
According to US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price, both leaders discussed the violence in Jerusalem, in particular on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah. Blinken reiterated his call on all parties to de-escalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children.
The Secretary also emphasised the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.
Ashkenazi and Blinken acknowledged the steadfast partnership between the United States and Israel, and committed to working together on challenges ahead, said Price.
Earlier, Price mentioned that the US is deeply concerned about the escalation between Israel and Palestine and said that both sides have the right to defend themselves.
"Israel has the right to defend itself and to respond to rocket attacks. The Palestinian people also have the right to safety and security, just as Israelis do," he said at his daily press briefing.
"We are also deeply concerned about the reported loss of life in Gaza and Israel, including the deaths of children as well as many innocent civilians injured. Similarly, in Jerusalem, where there reportedly have been hundreds of Palestinians injured, as well as Israeli police, we call on all sides to exercise restraint and to exercise calm," Price added.
The State Department spokesperson said that the US will continue to remain engaged with senior Israeli officials and Palestinian leadership in the days and weeks ahead.
He also mentioned that there have been "some encouraging steps" from Israel and from the Palestinians, such as the decision to reroute the Jerusalem Day parade and the decision on the part of the Israeli Supreme Court to delay the Sheikh Jarrah decision.
"We stand by Israel's right to defend itself. We also stand by the principle that Palestinians deserve the right to live in safety and security... But the United States certainly stands by the principle that civilians should not - that any loss of civilian life is deeply lamentable, whether that is a Palestinian life or an Israeli life," he further said.
This comes as the tensions between Israel and Palestine are rapidly escalating, with ramping up of rocket attacks and airstrikes from both sides. Three people have been killed in rocket strikes from Gaza towards Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a state of emergency in Lod as intense rioting has erupted in the Arab-Jewish city amid escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine.
The US White House on Tuesday (local time) expressed serious concern over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, calling for de-escalation of tensions between both countries by establishing a two-state solution.
On Tuesday, Hamas said that it fired 137 rockets in around five minutes in an apparent attempt to overwhelm the Iron Dome missile defence system. Less than an hour later, the two women were killed in an apparently separate attack.
Over 630 rockets were fired at Israel from Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon, 200 of which were intercepted by Iron Dome missile defence batteries while 150 others fell short of their targets and landed inside the Strip, according to the army.
The country has been embroiled in conflict over the impending eviction of dozens of Palestinians from East Jerusalem's neighbourhood.
Over 70 Palestinians in total are set to be evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in the coming weeks to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land that courts have ruled were owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel in 1948.
( With inputs from ANI )
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