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EU blames Hamas for violence, says Israel entitled to act

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(JTA) — The European Union blamed Hamas for the latest outbreak of hostilities. 

“The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop,” Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, wrote in a statement. 

“Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks,” Ashton said. She also urged Israel ”to ensure that its response is proportionate.”

Israel launched operation Pillar of Defense on Nov. 14 in response to intensfied rocket fire from Gaza. More than 60 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed. Among the Palestinian dead is Ahmed Jabari, a top official in the Hamas terrorist group that controls Gaza.

Ashton also hoped that the visit by Egypt’s prime minister, Hisham Kandil, would help “calm the situation.”

During his impromptu solidarity visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday, Kandil called on the world “to intervene” in Gaza. Egypt’s government has called the operation a “massacre” and said it was “unacceptable.” 

Israel observed a brief cease-fire during the visit at the behest of Egypt’s government, Israeli media reported. Palestinian militants fired 21 rockets into Israel during the unilateral cease-fire.   

The Obama administration has also blamed Hamas for starting the current round of hostilities and said Israel had a right to defend itself. William Hague, the British foreign secretary, made a similar statement. 

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