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EU: Gaza, Israel 'dangerously close to new conflict'

Aug. 11, 2018 11:34 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 14, 2018 4:02 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The European Union (EU) warned, on Friday, of a new conflict emerging between Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, calling for an urgent halt to the violent escalation.

A spokesperson for the EU foreign affairs said in a statement that "the rocket fire from Gaza towards communities in southern Israel as well as other violent actions and provocations against Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian militants are totally unacceptable."

The spokesperson stressed that "while having the right to defend itself, Israel is expected to continue to exercise restraint and do everything to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza. The death of a pregnant Palestinian mother and her child in this latest escalation is a tragic loss."

The statement pointed out that "the escalation of violence in recent days has made Gaza and Israel, dangerously, close to a new conflict."

The EU's priority now is to reduce the violent escalation and not to endanger the lives of civilians any longer.

The statement concluded that "the European Union reiterates its full support to the efforts by Egypt and the UN to reduce tensions and to alleviate the situation in Gaza, including by enhancing the international response to the current crisis and easing movement and access."

Israel has declared a mutual exchange of fire with Gaza since late Wednesday night, which has resulted in the destruction of alleged Hamas military sites, in exchange for hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza towards southern Israel.

An Israeli army spokesperson said that since Wednesday night, Israeli warplanes hit 150 sites in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas launched about 180 rockets, which landed near Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

He confirmed that out of the 180 rockets fired from Gaza, the Iron Dome system intercepted more than 30 rocket-propelled grenades.

The Israeli airstrikes led to the killing of three Palestinians, including a pregnant mother and her toddler. Meanwhile, due to Hamas fired rockets, several Israeli citizens suffered light to moderate injuries in southern Israel.

On Friday, during the 20th “Great March of Return” Palestinians marched to the eastern border of Gaza to protest the nearly 12-year Israeli siege on Gaza. The total number of those killed during the protests on Friday was three Palestinians, while 307 others were injured.

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