European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton .
The European Union called on Friday for a lasting solution that will ensure peace and security for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In a statement released on Friday, the 28-member bloc expressed its deep concern over the escalation in Gaza, ever since Hamas resumed firing rockets at Israel and the IDF launched a ground offensive in the Strip.
While praising the recent five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, the EU said it regretted the pause in fighting did not last. The statement called on both sides to agree to a ceasefire "immediately," adding, "We underline the obligation to allow full and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance.”
As for the numbers of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, including children – Palestinian sources put the current death toll at 307 – the EU called for an investigation into these incidents: “We condemn the continued firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel by Hamas and other militant groups and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians."
The official statement echoed UNRWA's condemnation of Hamas hiding rockets underneath one of the UN agency's schools in Gaza, saying Israel had the right to protect its population from such attacks but had to "act proportionately" and ensure the safety of civilians.
The EU called the need for a ceasefire "urgent" and praised ongoing efforts by Middle East counties to broker a deal.
Both sides must de-escalate the situation, and end the violence and suffering of their populations, the EU concluded.
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