Hague backs Gaza ceasefire bid
Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday voiced Britain's support for Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire in Gaza as he met EU counterparts in Brussels to discuss the crisis.
About 90 Palestinians – half of them non-combatants – are reported to have been killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza, launched last week in response to a wave of rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities from the Palestinian enclave.
Arriving in Brussels for a meeting of foreign ministers from the 27 EU states, Mr Hague made clear Britain blames Gaza's Hamas rulers for precipitating the conflict, but also urged Israel to "de-escalate" the violence.
Mr Hague said: "We want efforts to negotiate a ceasefire to succeed.
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"Egypt are making strong efforts in that regard, with our support.
"Of course, part of any ceasefire has to be a cessation of rocket attacks against Israel, but everyone has responsibilities.
"Israel has responsibilities too to take every opportunity to de-escalate the violence, to avoid civilian casualties, to observe international humanitarian law."
Three Israeli civilians have died in the current round of violence, which has seen Tel Aviv and Jerusalem targeted by rockets fired from within built-up areas of Gaza City.
Officials reported that four Palestinian fighters and 12 non-combatants were killed yesterday morning as Israel maintained its air and sea bombardment of suspected militant sites and the homes and offices of Hamas leaders.
Health officials said rockets hit two houses belonging to a single family, killing two children and a woman and injuring 30 others. It came less than 24 hours after several women and children were among 11 reportedly killed in an airstrike on a residential area.