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Middle East

France promises Gaza aid, protests at Israeli raids worldwide

Article published on the 2008-12-29 Latest update 2008-12-29 16:56 TU

Pakistani students protest in Karachi(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani students protest in Karachi
(Photo: Reuters)

France has promised to increase shipments of medical and food aid to the Gaza Strip, as estimates of casualties from Israeli air-raids continue to climb. Paris repeated calls for a revival of the ceasefire between Hamas, which controls the area, and Israel, as did the US, while the Bush administration blamed the raids on rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas "thugs".

"France and the European Union, who are already the major humanitarian and economic donors to the population of Gaza, are ready to increase their aid in response to the emergency," said French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal.

"We are, in particular, ready to send additional food and medical aid," he said, adding that France supports the UN Security Council resolution calling for a return to the six-month ceasefire which ended on 19 December.

The call is not enough for opponents of the Israeli action, who say that the EU has increased diplomatic links with Israel during France's six-month presidency.

"At the same time it continues its economic and diplomatic co-operation with the state of Israel, so this is on two different registers," says Richard Wagman of the French Jewish Peace Union. "What the Israeli authorities understand is they can go ahead and do what they want despite diplomatic protests."

Reaction: Richard Wagman of the French Jewish Peace Union

29/12/2008 by Rosslyn Hyams

In the US, the White House demanded that Hamas agree to respect a "sustainable and durable ceasefire" and called on the movement stop firing rockets at Israel. The Bush adminstration blamed Hamas "thugs" for provoking the offensive, while representatives for Barack Obama said that the President-elect is committed to peace in the Middle East.

Protests spread around the world, the latest being in Sydney, Australia, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Earlier thousands protested in Beirut for the second day running, with more demonstrations in three Egyptian cities,  as well as Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, Germany and several other countries.

Medical sources in Gaza City say that 12 Palestinians died in the latest raids Monday, with 30 more wounded, bringing the estimated death toll to 345.

Israeli army officials have declared that "there will not be a single Hamas building left standing in Gaza" after the operation. 

"We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings," armed forces deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Dan Harel, quoted by YNet News.