Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday urged both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and the Palestinians to avoid escalating Gaza violence
that has killed 15 Palestinians and three Israelis.
"The president of Russia
called on the parties to exercise restraint and avoid the path of escalating violence, whose victims include civilians, and to do everything to return the situation to its normal course," the Kremlin said following a telephone conversation between Putin and Netanyahu.
"Attacks on the south of Israel and the disproportionate strikes on Gaza - especially when civilians are killed on both sides - are completely unacceptable," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
The Russian official stressed that the violence was especially dangerous because it came against the backdrop of existing regional instability linked to the conflict in Syria and last year's war in Libya.
Lukashevich said Israel and the Palestinians were now pursuing a course that could lead to still further bloodshed between them while threatening to degenerate into a broader conflict.
"We strongly appeal on all the involved parties to immediately end their armed confrontation and to keep the conflict from resulting in still further bloodshed," the Russian spokesman told a weekly briefing.
"We believe that considering the fragile situation in the Middle East
and the entire North African region, such large flare-ups of violence are fraught with dangerous consequences, including in other parts of the Arab world."