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President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to express his concern over the mounting Palestinian casualties. The White House said Obama reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself and condemned Hamas' rocket attacks. Obama said a lasting peace will ultimately require a demilitarized Gaza and dismantling of terror groups. The president is also pushing for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire that would allow Israeli and Palestinian civilians to return to normalcy.
The 20-day war has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, the Israeli military said. More than 160,000 displaced Palestinians have sought shelter at dozens of U.N. schools, an eight-fold increase since the start of Israel's ground operation more than a week ago, the U.N. said. Hamas and other militants in Gaza have fired more than 2,400 rockets at Israel since hostilities began on July 8, many deep into the Israeli heartland and toward most of the country's major cities.
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