France, Britain and Germany on Saturday called on Israel and Hamas to agree on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, according to a joint declaration from the three countries’ foreign ministries.
“We call upon all parties immediately to return to a ceasefire. We fully support the ongoing efforts by Egypt to this end,” said the statement from foreign ministers Laurent Fabius of France, Philip Hammond of Britain and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany.
“All parties should take immediate practical steps to address the urgent humanitarian needs including to facilitate full humanitarian access. To be sustainable, a ceasefire must envisage steps to address both Israeli security concerns and Palestinian requirements regarding the lifting of restrictions on Gaza.
“The final objective must be to see a return to talks on a negotiated two-state solution, which remains the only way to resolve the conflict and end the human suffering it causes once and for all.”
A 72-hour truce in Gaza ended on Friday when Gazan terrorists fired rockets at Israel. In response, Israel struck terror targets in Gaza. On Saturday, it carried out 50 such airstrikes, killing — according to Hamas figures — at least five Palestinians, while Gaza terrorists fired 23 rockets into Israel.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through central London and Cape Town on Saturday, condemning Israel’s one-month military operation in the coastal enclave. Protests were also held in Paris and other French towns.
Almost 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza in the past month’s fighting. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel opening and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”
Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border. So far, Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.