Russia urges Israel not to endanger civilians

Russia urged Israel on Wednesday not to use excessive force or endanger the lives of Palestinian civilians in efforts to win the release of captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking by telephone with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, called the soldier's release a "priority task" and said that Russia was making efforts to win his freedom, though he did not say how. At the same time, Lavrov stressed that "Israel must act with the highest degree of restraint and circumspection, not placing the lives and security of the civilian Palestinian population in danger and not resorting to extrajudicial reprisal," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The discussion came two days after Lavrov met with Livni in Moscow and called for Palestinians to release Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was seized June 25. Israel subsequently launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli leaders Wednesday authorized troops to move into residential areas of Gaza.