The grave escalation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the major upsurge in violence in and around Gaza, must stop. This follows days of tension and clashes in Jerusalem, including at the holy sites and increasing violence in towns in Israel and the West Bank.
The EU is dismayed at the large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, including children. The priority must be to protect civilians. All efforts should be directed at avoiding civilian casualties, and supporting de-escalation.
The indiscriminate launching of rockets from Hamas and other groups towards Israeli civilians is unacceptable.
While recognising Israel’s legitimate need to protect its civilian population, this response needs to be proportionate and with maximum restraint in the use of force.
The EU calls for an immediate end to the ongoing violence. Everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which will, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides. In Jerusalem, the status quo at the holy sites must be respected and freedom of worship guaranteed.
I am in contact with the relevant parties in the region and with the international community, including through the Middle East Quartet, to de-escalate the situation as a matter of priority and to support efforts aimed at ending further violence.