The Brazilian government talking on behalf of Mercosur condemned the “disproportionate use of force” in Gaza and called on Israel and Palestinians for an immediate cease fire of the conflict that has already left al least dozens of people killed, mostly civilians.
In the release Mercosur leaders expressed their “strongest condemnation of the violence unleashed between Israel and Palestine” and “deeply regret the loss of lives and expresses its concern with the disproportionate use of force” said the text.
They call on both sides “for an immediate end to violence and to the UN Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities. The path for overcoming the current crisis is through diplomacy and dialogue,” continues the text.
Mercosur members, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay (suspended) recognized the State of Palestine and last December signed a free trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Mercosur signed a similar agreement with Israel in 2007.
The South American block also expressed “its support to the request from the State of Palestine to obtain status of UN Observer member”.
The intense air bombardments by Israel on Gaza on Saturday killed at least ten people and destroyed the headquarters of the Hamas government.
Since the launching by Israel last Wednesday of the military operation “Defense Pillar” 73 people have been killed (70 Palestinians and 3 Israelis) and another 700, mostly Palestinians have been injured.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be visiting the region in coming days to try and convince Israelis and Palestinians to agree on a cease fire and truce.
Meantime the US and EU called for de-escalation of hostilities and have said to understand Israel’s reaction and blame Hamas for the current conflict.
President Barack Obama personally urged leaders in Turkey and Egypt to engage with Hamas over a “de-escalation” of hostilities in Gaza, while continuing to support Israeli strikes despite mounting Palestinian civilian casualties.
Speaking on board Air Force One en route to Asia, White House national security adviser Ben Rhodes blamed Hamas for the current round of violence, stating that the “precipitating factor” for Israeli air strikes was rockets fired into civilian territories from Gaza.
Meanwhile from Brussels it was announced that EU ministers of foreign affairs will discuss the situation and the escalating tension in the Middle East.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton had previously condemned the latest violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza that has led to civilian deaths on both sides, and pinned the blame for the crisis on Hamas.
Ms Catherine Ashton said she was “deeply concerned at the escalating violence” and deplored the loss of civilian life.
“The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop,” Ashton said in a statement.
“Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks.” But she urged Israel to be “proportionate” in its response.
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