Obama: 'Encouraged' by Egypt's ceasefire proposal

President Barack Obama has said that he was "encouraged" by Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians - siding with Israel against what he called "inexcusable attacks."

He said: "We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal which we hope can restore a calm that we've been seeking.

Obama's comments came as he presided over an annual Iftar dinner Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

"More broadly, the situation in Gaza reminds us again that the status quo is unsustainable and the only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

Obama's comments came as he presided over an annual Iftar dinner at the White House to celebrate Ramadan.

More: Egypt proposes Israel-Hamas ceasefire

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Israel launches ground offensive in Gaza as air strikes continue

Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza with residents reporting heavy shelling in the area. Palestinian health officials say 27 Palestinians, including a baby, two children and a 70-year-old woman, have been killed since Israel sent ground forces into the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians.