The U.S. administration on Thursday continued to voice its support of Israel's military offensive in Gaza. U.S. President Barack Obama told Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi over the phone that "it is Israel's right to defend itself."
White house spokesman Jay Carney said there is "no justification" for the violence perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and called on those responsible to immediately stop the "cowardly acts."
Carney said that while Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, the violence it continues to engage in is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Jerusalem, Cairo and Ramallah next Tuesday, but is not expected to visit the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Great Britain and France's ambassadors to Israel visited the town of Kiryat Malachi in southern Israel Thursday, where three Israelis were killed in a rocket attack that morning.
"I came to show support for the residents," said French Ambassador Christophe Bigot following his tour of Israel's south. Bigot asked to tell Israelis suffering under the barrage of rocket attacks that "France is thinking of them."
Bigot told reporters that French President Francois Hollande told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone that "Israel's security was essential."
In an interview with Israel Hayom, Bigot said, "Many rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza without any reason. It is completely unacceptable and insufferable."
According to French Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault, Hollande also made contact with Morsi to try to prevent an escalation of hostilities.
"It's time to stop this escalation, which is dangerous for the security of Israel and its people and for that of the Palestinian people," Ayrault told reporters during a visit to Berlin, adding that "France will do everything it can to avoid an escalation of the violence."
Morsi on Thursday condemned Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as unacceptable aggression and dispatched Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to visit Gaza in a show of support for the Palestinians.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RTL radio Thursday that "Israel has the right to defend itself," but added that the "renewal of violence won't get us anywhere." Fabius called on both sides to show caution and restraint.
British Foreign Minister William Hague said he was "gravely concerned" by the situation in Gaza and southern Israel, and that "Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis."
"I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups," said Hague. "This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza."
Hague added: "Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately. I also strongly urge Israel to do their utmost to reduce tension, avoid civilian casualties and increase the prospects for both sides to live in peace."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, from the sidelines of an EU meeting in Paris on Thursday, expressing Germany's support for Israel's right to defend itself.
Westerwelle added that it was necessary "to focus on de-escalation, and that things go forward in a careful and level-headed manner." He also cautioned against a new "spiral of violence" in an "exceptionally dangerous situation."
Australian PM Julia Gillard said, ''Australia supports Israel's right to defend itself against these indiscriminate attacks. Such attacks on Israel's civilian population are utterly unacceptable.''
In contrast to the support Israel has received from Western countries, Russia strongly condemned the latest wave of Israel's aerial attacks.
"Further escalation of violence would be impermissible," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.
“The disproportionate strikes in the Gaza Strip are totally unacceptable, especially when there are civilian casualties," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation with Netanyahu on Thursday, and urged both sides to avoid escalation of violence.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the recent Israeli attacks "savage."
"Another attack on the Gaza Strip began. Savage. Savage. Israel again bombing the Gaza Strip. Reasons? What reasons? Because [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted once again he will ask for Palestine to be included as a member of the United Nations," Chavez said.
Chavez is an ally of both Syria and the Palestinians.
"We are asking for peace in the world. We want peace in the world, a stop to the attacks against Syria, against Palestine, against the people of the world," he said.