EU urges Israelis and Palestinians to prevent broader conflict

·1-min read
European Union foreign policy chief Borrell attends a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building, in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's foreign policy chief on Wednesday called for an immediate end to violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories that has killed more than 50 people since Monday.

"Everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which will, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides," Josep Borrell said in a statement that condemned actions by both sides.

At least 53 people have been killed in Hamas-ruled Gaza and six people in Israel since the violence escalated, according to officials, with Palestinian militants raining rockets into Israel and Israel launching air strikes on the enclave.

The offensive is the heaviest between Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza, and concern is growing that the situation could spiral out of control.

"The indiscriminate launching of rockets from Hamas and other groups towards Israeli civilians is unacceptable," Borrell said.

"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."

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Kate Abnett and John Stonestreet)

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