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Middle East

France deplores civilian victims as Israel-Palestine violence escalates

media Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, 4 May 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

As Israel responded with air and tank strikes to hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, French authorities strongly condemned the attacks on innocent civilians on both sides.

According to Reuters quoted by French media, The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs "very firmly condemned" the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on Israeli territory on Saturday.

"France affirms the right of Israelis, like the Palestinians, to live in peace, dignity and security.", the Foreign Ministry said.

"We deplore the civilian victims on both sides", the communiqué added.

France 24 Gaza Israel Strikes May 4

UN calling for peace

The UN envoy to the Middle East called for a cessation of rocket fire by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Nickolay Mladenov tweeted on Sunday that “enough Palestinian and Israeli lives have been lost, people injured, houses damaged and destroyed,” and called for a “return to the understandings of the past few months before it is too late.”

Israeli retaliatory airstrikes have killed at least nine Palestinians and wounded over 110, while Palestinian rocket fire has killed three Israelis and wounded over 100.

A rocket is fired from Gaza towards Israel, in Gaza May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bashar Talib

Israel’s military said more than 450 rockets, many intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system, have been fired at southern Israeli cities and villages since Friday, and it attacked some 220 targets belonging to Gaza militant groups.

A rocket that hit a house in Ashkelon killed a 58-year-old Israeli man, local police said. He was the first such Israeli civilian fatality since the seven-week-long Gaza war in 2014. Separate strikes on the southern Israeli city killed two men, a local hospital official said.

In Gaza, at least four Palestinian gunmen were killed in Israeli strikes, health officials said.

In a separate strike it described as a targeted attack, Israel’s military killed Hamed Ahmed Al-Khodary, a Hamas commander. The military said he was responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

'Massive strikes'

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had ordered Israeli forces to press attacks against militants in the Gaza Strip and deploy in strength around the Palestinian enclave after a two-day surge in cross-border fighting.

“This morning I instructed the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) to continue with massive strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip and I also instructed that forces around the Gaza Strip be stepped up with tank, artillery and infantry forces,” Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defence minister, said in a statement.

The United States condemned the rocket attacks on Israel and said it fully supported its "right to self-defence against these abhorrent attacks."

(With AFP)

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