BRUSSELS, August 3 (RIA Novosti) - President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, urged the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to put an end to violence in the Gaza Strip, a joint statement by the EU top officials said Sunday.
“This needs to stop immediately. We strongly condemn continued rocket fire over Israel. It constitutes an unacceptable threat to its citizens. Israel has the right to live in peace in its recognized borders. Legitimate defense needs to maintain proportionality,” Barroso and Rompuy stressed.
“Palestinian and Israeli leaders need to exercise courage by putting an end to this senseless violence. They also need to exercise courage and wisdom to move beyond these cycles of violence and advance towards arrangements that will ensure peaceful and dignified coexistence, based on mutual respect,” the leaders said, adding that Gaza has been suffering from “intolerable violence” for more than three weeks.
The EU officials said that they were ready to support the negotiations, “confidence building measures reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.”
On July 8, Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza. On July 17, the Israeli Army switched to a ground assault largely aimed at locating and destroying underground tunnels dug by Hamas rebels to secure a secret access to the Israeli territory.
According to recent estimates, more than 1,700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died throughout the course of the operation. The Israeli side lost 67 people.