EU calls for halt to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel

European Union calls for rocket fire on Israel 'to end immediately,' says both sides 'have the right to live in peace.'

AFP, Arutz Sheva Staff, | updated: 21:40

Rocket attacks
Rocket attacks
Nati Shohat/Flash90

The European Union (EU) on Saturday called for rocket fire from Gaza into Israel to "stop immediately" and threw its backing behind efforts by Egypt and the United Nations to calm the situation.

"The rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel must stop immediately. A de-escalation of this dangerous situation is urgently needed to ensure that civilians' lives are protected," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.

"Israelis and Palestinians both have the right to live in peace, security and dignity."

Gaza terrorists on Saturday fired over 200 rockets at Israel, which responded by striking Hamas and Islamic Jihad military targets, officials said, as another escalation between them threatened a fragile ceasefire.

Despite Israel's best efforts to avoid civilian casualties, three Gazans including a baby and her mother died in the strikes, the Gaza Health Ministry claimed Saturday.

The latest flare-up came with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the blockaded Gaza Strip, seeking further concessions from Israel under the ceasefire.

"Only a political solution can put an end to the violence," the EU statement said.

Israel and Gaza's Hamas government have fought three wars since 2008 and fears remain of a fourth.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the United Nations had led to relative calm around Israel's April 9 general election.

But on Tuesday, a rocket was fired from Gaza led Israel to reduced the offshore fishing limit for Gazan vessels.

Israel's army blamed Islamic Jihad for the rocket, which fell into the Mediterranean.

On Thursday, Israel said its aircraft struck a Hamas military compound after balloons carrying firebombs and explosives were launched across the border.

For a year, Gazans have frequently fitted balloons with firebombs in a bid to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.

Following the air strike, the Israeli military said two rockets were launched from Gaza toward Israel, setting off sirens in parts of the south.

With the ceasefire at risk, a Hamas delegation led by its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials on the truce.

The ceasefire has seen Israel allow Qatar provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza to pay salaries and to finance fuel purchases, purportedly in order ease a severe electricity shortage.