EU's Ashton: "deeply concerned" at violence in Israel and Gaza

BRUSSELS Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:17am EST

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday she was deeply concerned at violence in Israel and Gaza, calling for rocket attacks by Hamas to end and urging Israel to ensure its response was proportionate.

"I am deeply concerned at the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip and deplore the loss of civilian lives on both sides," Ashton said in a statement.

"The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop," she said.

"Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks. I urge Israel to ensure that its response is proportionate," she said.

Ashton said she had spoken about the situation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Egyptian president's office, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

She said she hoped a visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil to Gaza on Friday would help to calm the situation.

(Reporting by Rex Merrifield, Brussels newsroom; Editing by Robin Emmott)

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