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France

Hollande backs Israel against Hamas rocket attacks

media Rafah in the Gaza Strip bombarded by Israeli airplanes Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

François Hollande declared France’s “solidarity” with Israel in a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening. The Israeli government must do whatever is needed to protect its people, the French president said.

Over 80 people were reported to have been killed in three days of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip on Thursday and the Islamist movement Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory, some striking north of Tel Aviv.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Hollande assured Netanyahu of France’s “solidarity against rockets fired from Gaza”, a statement after the call reported.

“It is up to the Israeli government to do whatever is needed to protect its population from danger,” the statement said. “The president of the republic repeats the need to avoid the escalation of violence.”

The comments are the first since tension started rising after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the subsequent burning alive of a young Palestinian.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also called Netanyahu with a similar message on Wednesday evening, while US Secretary of State John Kerry talked to him earlier and declared his intention of talking to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

France's foreign ministry on Thursday warned French nationals against travelling to an area within 40 km of Gaza, which includes the towns of Sderot, Ashkelon, Beer-Sheva and Ashdod.

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