CORRECTED-Obama: focus in Gaza conflict must be on ceasefire

Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:07pm EDT

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(Corrects headline to say ceasefire)

WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama repeated on Monday that Israel had the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas militants but said he had serious concerns about the growing number of civilian casualties resulting from the conflict.

"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 ceasefire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians," he told reporters at the White House. (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Susan Heavey)

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