Washington has issued an unusual condemnation of Israeli actions against the Palestinians in the face of the 2 March raid which killed eight, among them a pregnant woman and a 13-year-old boy. ‘We continue to be seriously concerned about civilian casualties and we have urged the Israeli government to take appropriate action to prevent the death or injury of innocent civilians and damage to civilian humanitarian structures,’ said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. However, he restated the US position that Washington ‘understands the need for Israel to defend itself against ongoing violence and terror’. Israeli army operations against suspected militants have intensified in the past two weeks following the death of four soldiers in a Hamas bomb attack. The raid that provoked the US reaction took place in the El-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.