PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to make a brief statement about the tragedy in Ukraine. Before I do, though, I want to note that Secretary Kerry has departed for the Middle East. As Iâ€™ve said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas. And as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamasâ€™ terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
Iâ€™ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives. And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel. So Secretary Kerry will meet with allies and partners. I have instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The work will not be easy. Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved. Nevertheless, Iâ€™ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We donâ€™t want to see anymore civilians getting killed.