Washington (CNN) – Sen. John McCain said Sunday the violence roiling the Middle East has likely never been worse, as rockets fall in Israel and Gaza, residents flee, warning sirens blare and the death toll rises.
"I would argue that given conditions in the Middle East, this might be more dangerous than any time in the past," the Arizona Republican told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union." "Not only conditions domestically, within Israel, but also the fact that Egypt is really not playing the role they traditionally have, countries like Qatar and others that could play a role."
McCain, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked what the U.S. role should be, amid renewed tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants.
"We obviously want to do what we can to bring an end to this conflict," he said. Yet, he added, "It's very important to understand: There's no moral equivalency here. Israel is being attacked by hundreds of rockets. Their people, a third of their population, has got about a 60-second warning."
"Picture the United States of America with a country contiguous to ours, that we're being subjected to rocket attacks. So the restraint of the Israelis, in my view, is admirable."
Israeli forces crossed into Gaza overnight, raiding a missile launching site, an Israeli military source said. It's Israel's first public acknowledgment of entering Gaza during the current conflict.
And on Sunday, Israel warned residents of Northern Gaza to leave their homes, signaling that more strikes are imminent. According to Israel, its forces have struck 1,320 "terror targets" across Gaza, including 735 concealed rocket launchers. The Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll in Gaza reached 168, with over 1,100 injured.
McCain noted the breakdown of Israeli and Palestinian talks and the lack of an effective broker for peace and added, "The United States’ influence has never been less than it is today. And we're seeing the results of that."
–CNN's Michael Schwartz, Salma Abdelaziz and Josh Levs contributed to this story