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EU urges halt to Gaza fighting

The European Union urged an immediate halt to Israeli air strikes and Palestinian attacks in and around Gaza today and the lifting of Israeli blockades in the area.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2008 01:58 IST

The European Union urged an immediate halt to Israeli air strikes and Palestinian attacks in and around Gaza today and the lifting of Israeli blockades in the area.

A statement issued by current EU president France says the 27-nation bloc "condemns the disproportionate use of force" from both sides.

Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds in the Hamas-ruled territory today, killing or wounding hundreds in the bloodiest day in Gaza in recent memory.

"There is no military solution in Gaza," the EU statement said, urging a lasting truce. The EU is part of the so-called "Quartet" seeking to negotiate peace in the Middle East, with the United States, the United Nations and Russia.

The EU statement urges the "reopening of all checkpoints and the immediate resumption of fuel and humanitarian aid deliveries."

Israel has maintained a strict blockade of Gaza since a June cease-fire began unraveling six weeks ago, allowing in only small quantities of essential goods.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner expressed "grave concern at the ongoing Israeli military air strikes in the Gaza Strip."

In a separate statement, she called on all sides to "exercise the utmost restraint, and to stop the escalation of violence which endangers the civilian population.