U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Hamas on Tuesday for continuing to fire rockets from Gaza after Israel said it would accept an Egyptian cease-fire proposal.
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"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort [to secure) a cease-fire," Kerry told reporters in Vienna on the sidelines of talks on Iran's nuclear program.
Kerry said he was prepared to return to the region if needed. He also said that it was important to give Egypt "time and space to make it work," in order to stabilize a truce.
"It is important for Hamas not to be provoking and purposefully trying to play politics in order to gain greater followers for it opposition, and use the innocent lives of civilians who may hide in buildings and use as shields and put in danger. That is against the laws of war," he said.
He said the international community strongly supported the need for a cease-fire, as there was "the potential of an even greater escalation of violence."
"We don't want to see that, nobody does... But Israel has the right to defend itself," Kerry said.
Israel threatened on Tuesday to abandon the truce it had unilaterally accepted earlier in the day if the Hamas rocket salvoes continued.
A top Hamas official in Cairo said the Islamist movement was still considering Egypt's proposal. But Hamas' armed wing rejected the ceasefire, saying its battle with Israel would "increase in ferocity and intensity."
"I urge all parties to observe the cease-fire," Kerry said.