US says Israel minister's Gaza nuclear comment was wholly unacceptable

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Monday condemned as "wholly unacceptable" comments by a junior member of the Israeli cabinet who appeared to voice openness to the idea of Israel carrying out a nuclear strike on Gaza.

"We continue to believe that it is important for all sides of this conflict to refrain from hateful rhetoric," deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told a briefing.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday disciplined the cabinet member in question.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, writing by David Ljunggren, editing by Chris Reese)