US says firm with Israel, no defence policy change

Washington - The US can be firm with Israel on Palestinian civilian victims in Gaza, while maintaining strategic support to ally Israel including defence supplies, officials said on Monday.

On Sunday, Washington said it was "appalled" at Israel's bombing of a UN school in Gaza, an unusually blunt wording but without directly blaming Israel.

"There's more that Israel can do to prevent civilian casualties," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

But "it does not change the fact that Israel remains an important security and strategic partner of the United States," she stressed.

"We believe they have the right to defend themselves. While in that - while they have the right to defend themselves, there is more they can do in that - in that regard to prevent events like those that happened just yesterday."

She said the main US goal was "to prevent the indiscriminate rocket attacks and terrorists coming up through tunnels into Israel. We haven't - our concerns about that haven't changed."

"It doesn't mean that we can't also call for a different type of approach or action as Israel is defending itself. In fact, we're saying we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we've had to keep ourselves to a high standard over time, and Israel should do the same," Psaki added.

The US expects to spend a total $30 bn on military aid to Israel between 2009 and 2018. In 2014, Israel received $3.1 bn in military aid.