VIDEO - BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday accused Gaza's Hamas rulers of trying to destroy the Palestinian dream of statehood, saying the Islamist group's violent takeover of the coastal strip last June "destroyed and tries to destroy our dreams, future and national aspirations".
He reiterated his demand that Hamas relinquish control of Gaza.
Abbas, who spoke while attending Christmas celebrations of Armenian Christians in biblical Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace, also denounced Israel's ongoing military strikes in Gaza as "brutal".
Fighting along the Israel-Gaza border has intensified in recent days, with Gaza militants firing rockets on Israeli border communities and Israeli pounding the coastal strip with air strikes. On Friday, Israel flattened a Hamas government building, signaling it's planning to intensify strikes.
A militant and two Gaza civilians were killed. In all, 34 Palestinians have been killed since Tuesday. Abbas condemned the Israeli strikes.
"In these days, we can only condemn gravely what happens in our cherished Gaza, this brutal attack on this cherished part of our land, every hour, which targets women, children and elderly," Abbas said.
Meanwhile, The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Israel and the Palestinians to respect international law and stop harming civilians.
Christoph Harnisch, head of the organization's delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement he was "in daily contact with the Israeli army and Palestinian armed factions in an effort to persuade them to respect the civilian population".
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called "for an immediate cessation of Palestinian sniper and rocket attacks into Israel, and for maximum restraint on the part of the Israel Defense Forces," spokeswoman Michel Montas said in a statement.
Ban urged Israel to end the closure, saying it cut off the population from fuel supplies needed to pump water and generate electricity for homes and hospitals.
"The closure will also cause further shortages of food, medical and relief items in the Gaza Strip," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report