COPENHAGEN – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel and Palestine to protect civilians, especially children, reiterating that Israel as a ‘democracy’ has an extra burden to do so. “We’ll continue to conduct intensive diplomacy to bring this current ‘cycle of violence’ to an end and we are ready to lend support, if the parties seek a ceasefire,” he told a press conference in Copenhagen. He reiterated Washington’s support for Israel’s ‘right’ to defend ‘itself,’ stressing there was no equivalence between a ‘terrorist’ group indiscriminately firing rockets at civilians and a ‘country’ defending its people from those attacks. “So we call on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to end the rocket attacks immediately,” he said. However, he said that Israel as a ‘democracy’ has an ‘extra burden’ to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. That includes journalists, Blinken said, referring to an Israeli air strike on Saturday that destroyed a building in Gaza housing international media outlets Al Jazeera television and The Associated Press news agency. Antony Blinken reiterated Washington’s concerns about protecting the media, but stopped short of condemning the strike. He said that Washington had requested Israel provide additional details regarding the justification for the strike. He said that he had not personally seen any information shared by Israeli authorities, and therefore did not want to comment on the legitimacy of the strike. “Israel has a ‘special responsibility’ to protect civilians in the course of its self-defence, and that most certainly includes journalists,” he said. Blinken also defended Washington’s move to block a UN Security Council declaration calling for an end to the hostilities. “We’re not standing in the way of diplomacy,” he stressed. Israel unleashed a wave of new airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, saying it had destroyed 15 kilometers of ‘tunnels’ and the homes. Palestinians described the barrage as the heaviest since the war began a week ago. At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli strikes and over 1,200 have been wounded, while Hamas rocket attacks have killed eight people in Israel.