THE TÁNAISTE AND Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore has condemned the escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza that is putting the lives of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians at risk. In a statement issued this morning, he said:
This latest round of violence, which was triggered by sustained rocket attacks on towns in Israel and has escalated with the targeted killing of a senior Hamas leader, could lead to the further death and suffering of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
The risks from an escalation of violence on either side are all too apparent. I urge both sides to immediately cease these attacks and remove the threat they pose to the lives and safety of innocent people.
Earlier, Israel agreed to suspend its offensive in the Gaza Strip while a brief visit was paid by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to the city of Gaza.
It was the first possible break in the escalating conflict, however, Hamas militants did not respect the temporary lull in the fighting and bombed northern Gaza, killing two people.
Following his three hour visit to Gaza, Qandil vowed to intensify Cairo’s efforts to secure a truce and end Israel’s “aggression” in Gaza.
Israeli warplanes carried out relentless attacks over the Gaza Strip throughout the night while Palestinian militants fired more rockets into the Jewish state.
The escalating conflict has drawn expressions of deep concern internationally and sparked anger in the Arab and Muslim world.
Additional reporting - AFP, 2012