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Hague: Hamas bears "principal responsibility" for the Israel/Gaza escalation of violence

By Paul Goodman
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HagueSquareThe Foreign Secretary's statement says that he deeply regrets the loss of life, and calls on all concerned not to escalate the crisis - so far, so predictable.  He also strongly urges Israel "to do their utmost to reduce tension, avoid civilian casualties and increase the prospects for both sides to live in peace. It is imperative to avoid the risk of a spiral of violence".  But he places the bulk of the blame fairly and squarely on Hamas:

"Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza. The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious."

The Times (£) reports that "a Hamas rocket has for the first time reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv, opening a new phase in the violence between Palestinians and Israelis". The paper adds that "15 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence yesterday afternoon".  The Commons isn't sitting - so there's no chance for Mr Hague to make a more full statement and answer questions on it.

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