HONOLULU, Hawaii (AFP) — US president-elect Barack Obama is "monitoring" the deadly violence in the Gaza strip and spoke to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the situation, his aides said Saturday.
Obama, who takes office on January 20, "is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza," said his chief national security spokesperson Brooke Anderson.
Anderson however emphasized that "there is one president at a time," a statement Obama has said often since he was elected on November 4.
Obama also spoke by phone with Rice for about eight minutes and "discussed the situations in Gaza and in South Asia," said an aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In a July interview with The New York Times, Obama said he didn't think that "any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens," in reference to rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.
"If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that," Obama said. "And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
As for talking with Hamas, the Islamist movement in control of Gaza, Obama said in the interview that it was "very hard to negotiate with a group that is not representative of a nation state, does not recognize your right to exist, has consistently used terror as a weapon, and is deeply influenced by other countries."
Punishing Israeli air raids Saturday into the Gaza Strip, launched in retaliation for rocket fire, left at least 228 dead, in one of the bloodiest days of the decades-long Middle East conflict.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "Operation Cast Lead" against the Islamist movement, which has also left some 700 wounded, will continue "as long as necessary.
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