Germany sides with Israel over Gaza escalation

Germany has blamed Hamas for the escalation of violence in the Middle East and called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about the assault on Gaza that began Saturday. Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg said the chancellor and Olmert agreed that the "clear, sole responsibility for the situation lies with Hamas" for breaking a cease-fire. Steg said Merkel stressed in the telephone conversation late Sunday that Israel must do everything possible to avoid civilian causalities and insisted that Hamas must immediately halt its rocket attacks on Israel.