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British PM presses Israel for ceasefire

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert to halt military action in Gaza in a phone call.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, London
UPDATED ON JAN 03, 2009 09:25 PM IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert to halt military action in Gaza in a phone call on Saturday, Brown's office said.

"The prime minister has spoken again on Saturday to Prime Minister Olmert, and is pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire," a statement said.

"Rocket attacks from Hamas must stop, and we have called for a halt to Israeli military action in Gaza.

"Too many have died, and we need space to get humanitarian supplies to those who need them.

"As the prime minister has made clear, moderation must prevail."

Brown also said action was "necessary" to re-open Egypt's border with Gaza, "but in a way that does not undermine Israel's security".

Britain has refused to condemn Israel's campaign of airstrikes in response to the firing of Palestinian rockets into Israeli territory.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through London on Saturday calling for an end to Israel's offensive. Some threw their shoes at the gates of Brown's Downing Street residence, echoing the protest of an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush.

More than 440 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive in the past week, according to Palestinian sources.

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