MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday offered help to mediate a truce between the armed Palestinian group Hamas and Israel, which has expanded its military campaign in the Gaza Strip by launching a ground offensive.
Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed in a phone call the ongoing Israeli offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that so far has killed more than 600 Palestinians, including at least 152 children and 82 women.
“The Russian president stressed that continued military action in the Gaza Strip is leading to a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation, to deaths and suffering of civilians,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
“He reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to assist in mediation efforts and the implementation of peaceful initiatives, including in the framework of the United Nations,” the statement said.
Putin said Russia is ready to assist in mediation of the escalating crisis in the Middle East as the continuing violent clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could lead to a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the enclave.
The phone conversation was held on the initiative of the Israeli leader. Earlier, a local Red Cross spokesman said the relief agency was preparing to pull the dead and wounded from two devastated towns and the al-Shijaya area in eastern Gaza Strip.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8, with the alleged objective to prevent Hamas militants from firing rockets from Gaza. At least 31 Israelis have been killed in the past 15 days of the Israeli ground offensive.
On Tuesday, a number of major Russian, US and European airlines said they suspended flights to Israel after a missile landed close to Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv.