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White House urges Israel to limit civilian casualties in Gaza

White House urges Israel to limit civilian casualties in Gaza

(NewsNation) — As the White House blames Hamas for the end of a temporary cease-fire, it is also telling Israel it must limit further civilian casualties in Gaza.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has been going on since the militant group's Oct. 7 attack on the country, was paused this past week in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages as well as Palestinian detainees, mostly women and teenagers. The initial four-day cease-fire was extended twice.

Israeli government officials said Hamas violated the truce by not providing a list of hostages it intended to release and also launching rockets toward Israeli territory Friday morning. Israel then resumed missile strikes in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visiting the region for the third time, placed the blame squarely on Hamas in remarks to reporters.

"Hamas reneged on commitments it made, in fact, back even before the pause came to an end," Blinken said Friday.

However, Blinken, using his strongest language yet, also urged Israel to limit the number of civilian deaths during the war, calling it imperative that Israel put clear protections in place to protect them and sustain aid to Gaza going forward.

"We're still out there. We're also very much focused, as we've been all along, on trying to make sure that this conflict doesn't spread, that it doesn't escalate in other places," Blinken said. "I'm also using our diplomacy to look at not only what's happening today, and how we're handling that, but also what happens the day after in Gaza, and how we can get on the map to just lasting, secure peace for Israelis and Palestinians."

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as a ground campaign, have left more than three-quarters of Gaza's 2.3 million residents uprooted and homeless, leading to a humanitarian crisis.

About 1,200 Israelis were killed, mainly in Hamas' initial incursion, during which 240 were taken hostage. Over 100 hostages were freed during the brief truce, according to the Associated Press, though Israel says 115 adult men, 20 women and two children are still being held captive. Eight Americans are believed to be included in this number. About 240 Palestinian women and children were released by Israel as part of the truce deal with Hamas as well.

White House officials have said they remain committed to getting hostages out.

The Israel Defense Forces and Israel Security Agency, in a joint announcement Friday, said the body of one of the hostages, Ofir Tzarfati, who was kidnapped Oct. 7 from the area in Re'im, was recently located in the Gaza Strip and brought to Israel.

His family has been informed of his death, the IDF and ISA said.

"We express our deep condolences," they said in a statement. "Our mission is to locate and return the hostages home. The IDF and the ISA are working in full coordination with the relevant national and security bodies and will continue until the task is complete."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.