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IDF troops ahead of operation - EU offers words of support Photo: AFP
IDF troops ahead of operation - EU offers words of support Photo: AFP
 
 

Europe backs IDF incursion

EU President Czech Republic: Israeli ground incursion defensive, not offensive action

Reuters
Published: 01.03.09, 23:05 / Israel News

European Union president, the Czech Republic, said on Saturday an Israeli ground incursion in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action.

 

"At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.

 

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is leading an EU delegation to the region on Sunday, and Potuznik said the presidency will wait to see the results of that visit.

 

However, France condemned Israel's move to send ground forces into Gaza.

"France condemns the Israeli ground offensive against Gaza as it condemns the continuation of rocket firing," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 

"This dangerous military escalation complicates efforts by the international community and in particular the European Union and France, the members of the Quartet and the states in the region to end the fighting, bring immediate aid to civilians and reach a permanent ceasefire," the statement said.

 

'Luxury of telling the truth'

The Czech Republic already defended Israel's strikes against Hamas last week. At the time, Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg said Israel had the right to defend itself.

 

"Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on Dec. 19. That is not acceptable any more," Schwarzenberg told daily Mlada Fronta Dnes in an interview.

 

Schwarzenberg, a staunch ally of Washington, said Hamas had excluded itself from serious political debate due to its rocket attacks on Israel. He also indirectly blamed the group for the growing death toll, saying it put its bases and gun warehouses in densely populated areas.

 

"Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? ... I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth," Schwarzenberg told the daily.

 

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