LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned Israel on Thursday that Western public opinion was turning against the Jewish state over its offensive against Islamist militants in Gaza.
Israel launched the operation 17 days ago, aiming to stop militants from Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave, and their allies, from firing rockets into its territory.
"As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel," Hammond told Sky News during a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Palestinian death toll rose to 729 on Thursday, most of them civilians, Gazan authorities said. At least 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed along with three civilians who died in rocket attacks on Israel.
"I am appealing to my Israeli counterparts, to their Western values, to do everything they can in exercising their legitimate right to self defence to minimize the casualties that are caused," Hammond said.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)