EU urges 'de-escalation' in Gaza
European leaders have called for civilians to be protected as a five-hour ceasefire begins
European Union leaders have called for Israel to guarantee the protection of civilians and act "proportionately" in its military operations in Gaza.
In a statement at the end of a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, the heads of government said the EU "deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli military operations and is deeply concerned about the rapid and dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation."
While recognizing Israel's right to protect its population from rocket attacks from Gaza, "it must act proportionately and ensure the protection of civilians at all times. It deeply deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians."
The statement called for both sides to "de-escalate the situation, to end the violence, to end the suffering of the civilian populations… and return to calm."
Nine days of violence have claimed 227 Palestinian lives, mostly civilians. One Israeli has been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
The statement was made before a five-hour ceasefire agreed between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas to allow humanitarian access to Gaza. The ceasefire is due to end at 3pm local time (12.00 GMT).Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.