US President Joe Biden has expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel forces and Palestinian militants, the White House has said.
Mr Biden's words came during a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eighth day of fighting in the region.
It signals a US desire to end Israel’s part of hostilities with Hamas, although it falls short of joining growing demands from within the President's own party for an immediate ceasefire.
On 16 May, Mr Netanyahu said Israel’s attacks were continuing at "full-force" and would "take time", adding that Israel "wants to levy a heavy price" on the Hamas militant group.
Heavy fighting broke out on 10 May, when Hamas fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem after weeks of clashes in the Holy City between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.
The protests were focused on the heavy-handed policing of a flashpoint holy site during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.
Since then, the Israeli military has launched hundreds of air strikes that it says are targeting Hamas’ militant infrastructure.
Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired more than 3,100 rockets into Israel.
A White House statement read: "The President reiterated his firm support for Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks. The President welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem.
"He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians. The two leaders discussed progress in Israel's military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.
"The President expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.
"The two leaders agreed that they and their teams would remain in close touch."
Mr Biden's envoy, Hady Amr, visited Israel on 14 May, discussing the crisis with Israeli officials.
The US regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation, so any messages for the group must go through interlocutors, such as Egypt.
At least 200 Palestinians have been killed in hundreds of air strikes in Gaza. This includes 59 children and 35 women, with another 1,300 people wounded.
At least eight people in Israel, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed in rockets launched from Gaza.
Cover image: Library photo of President Joe Biden (Picture: US Department of Defense).