VIENNA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Hamas militants on Tuesday for firing rockets from the Gaza Strip, after Israel had accepted a truce proposed by Egypt.
"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 ceasefire," Kerry told a news conference in Vienna.
He said the international community strongly supported the need for a ceasefire, 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".
Kerry said: "We urge all parties to support this ceasefire."
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Fredrik Dahl, editing by John Stonestreet)