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Russian Ambassador to UN fears bloodshed in Gaza may grow

July 19, 2014, 6:01 UTC+3 (Adds details

“From the beginning of Israel’s ground operation, the situation around the Gaza Strip has reached a new dangerous round of tension", - Vitaly Churkin said

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(Adds details, July 19 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia fears the scale of the bloodshed in Gaza may grow, Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on Friday.

“There is every reason for that,” he said.

“From the beginning of Israel’s ground operation, the situation around the Gaza Strip has reached a new dangerous round of tension. We are deeply concerned about this development of the events.”

Stopping the military confrontation is the most vital task at the moment, he said.

“We understand Israel’s concerns about the continuing shelling of its territory from the Gaza Strip, but it is most important not to allow endless spiralling of violence there, otherwise the situation will be completely out of control,” he said.

The ambassador said the current aggravation of the situation should remind of the thoughts about “the futility of the status quo, the importance of substantive negotiation process.” He repeated the calls voiced by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said it necessary to activate the “quartet” of peace mediators in the Middle East settlement and involvement in it of representatives of the Arab League “and not at all as audience.” “The very work on decisions should be organised jointly with the Arabs, first of all with the Egyptians, so that they are a part of the process to offer initiatives.”

On July 8, 2014, the Israel Defence Forces announced the start of the operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants. The IDF made strikes on 50 targets in the Gaza Strip, most of which were launching platforms for rockets. Five Palestinians were killed and some 20 were wounded.

The immediate reason for the operation was that cities in southern Israel were massively shelled by Hamas military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. According to the Israeli army’s press service, on July 7, some 90 missiles were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. As of early July, 450 missiles had been fired since the start of 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to prepare for a possible ground operation. Israel announced mobilization of 1,500 reservists and sent two army brigades to the border with Gaza.

Later, on July 15, there was a brief ceasefire. Israel, the IDF said, abstained from strikes on the Gaza Strip for six hours on Tuesday since 09:00 local time while abiding by a ceasefire agreement suggested as part of Egypt’s peace initiative.

But Palestinian militants rejected Cairo’s plan and continued rocket attacks on Israel all this time. At 15:00 local time, Netanyahu ordered the IDF to resume strikes against Gaza.

Hamas militants set a course for liberation of Israel-occupied Palestinian territories right from the start of their activity on December 14, 1987. The group has made a few dozen terrorist attacks against military and civilian facilities of Israel.

Hamas regularly shells Israel’s territory with homemade rockets. In response, Israel shells Gaza and holds military operations there to suppress militant activity and destroy Hamas’ military structure. According to Hamas, 1,365 Israelis died in 1987-2011 in terrorist attacks made by its militants.

Russia is ready to offer assistance in the search for ways to settle the conflict - both in the international and in the bilateral formats, the diplomat said.

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