The European Union (EU), whose rotating president is from the Czech Republic, voiced rare support for Israel's ground incursion while United States President George W. Bush said he opposes a "one-sided ceasefire." France opposed the Israeli counterterrorist offensive.
"At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," said Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik.
Karl Schwarzenberg, the President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, is scheduled to visit Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority Sunday through Tuesday.
United States President George W. Bush, in his weekly radio address, put the blame for Israel's retaliation squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. "This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas -- a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction," the president declared.
"In response to these attacks on their people, the leaders of Israel have launched military operations on Hamas positions in Gaza. As a part of their strategy, Hamas terrorists often hide within the civilian population."
While the U.S. is using diplomatic efforts to halt violence and is concerned with the economic situation of Gaza residents, President Bush stated, "Another one-way ceasefire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice -- there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end."
In New York, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet in emergency session Saturday night.