As protests spread throughout the world, international leaders condemned Israel's offensive on the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, which has claimed over 300 Palestinian lives. UN leader Ban Ki-Moon urged both sides to halt the violence.
AFP - Malaysia condemns 'disproportionate' Israeli military action:
Malaysia accused Israel of using "disproportionate" military force in its offensive against Hamas targets in Gaza and warned that the campaign risked causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
"Malaysia deplores the disproportionate use of military power by Israel against the people of Gaza," Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a statement late Sunday.
"A humanitarian catastrophe must be avoided at all costs. There must be an immediate halt to the violence," he added. Abdullah also urged the United Nations to take action to establish peace in Gaza.
"The ceasefire must be restored immediately and respected by all concerned," he said.
Malaysia has been a traditional friend of the Palestinian people and has voiced support for the creation a viable Palestinian state but does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
The massive air raids, which began on Saturday, have killed more than 300 people so far.
The deadly blitz has also wounded some 600 people. Violence had spiralled after a six-month truce between Israel and Hamas expired on December 19.
Hamas has responded to the fighting -- some of the bloodiest in the decades-old conflict -- by firing more than 90 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel, killing one man and wounding some 20 people.
Japan calls for restraint in Gaza conflict:
Japan called on Israel to exercise restraint and for Palestinian militants to halt rocket attacks as an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip killed more than 300 people.
Japan said it was "deeply concerned" about the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has threatened a ground offensive in addition to its air blitz to stop rocket attacks into its territory.
"Japan urges both parties to immediately halt the use of force in order not to escalate the violence further," Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said in a statement released late Sunday.
"Japan calls on Israel to exercise its utmost self-restraint. Japan also calls on Palestinian militants to stop attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israel," he said.
Nakasone said that Japan, a leading donor to the Middle East peace process, was ready to provide assistance to help Palestinians, including residents of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Hamas movement.
Japan, which relies on the Middle East for nearly all of its oil, has traditionally kept good relations with Arab nations and Iran.
The world's second largest economy, Japan has sought a more active role in the Middle East and has spearheaded a project to bring jobs to the West Bank.
China urges Israel to end deadly strikes in Gaza:
China urged Israel on Monday to immediately stop military operations in the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 300 people, while calling for the Israelis and Hamas to work towards peace.
"The Chinese side is shocked and seriously concerned over the current military operations in Gaza that have caused a large number of deaths and injuries," Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement.
"The world is concerned with the Mideast peace process. To use armed force to resolve differences, especially to kill and wound ordinary citizens, runs counter to these efforts.
"The Chinese side strongly calls on the concerned parties to immediately cease military operations and adopt realistic measures aimed at easing the tense situation in Gaza."
In the statement posted on the foreign ministry's website, Li urged Israel and the Palestinians to end their dispute through negotiations, and not violence.
"(Both sides) need to resolve differences through dialogue, and push forward the realisation of peace and stability in the Mideast area at an early date," he said.
Although he did not specifically name Hamas, Chinese state press said Li was referring mainly to the Islamist movement when speaking about the Palestinian side.
Israeli tanks massed at the Gaza border on Monday as warplanes continued pounding Hamas targets in the densely populated enclave where raids have killed more than 300 people in two days.
Hamas responded to the continuing bombardment by firing rockets the farthest yet into Israel, with one striking not far from Ashdod, Israel's second-largest port. It caused no casualties, medics said.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said the movement "reserves the right to hit back at this aggression with martyr operations," meaning suicide bombings of the sort Hamas has not carried out inside Israel since January 2005.
Date created : 2008-12-29