United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday condemned the barrage of rockets fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Clinton said in a meeting with Opposition leader Tzipi Livni in New York that Israel has the right to defend itself. Livni in turn urged the international community to speak out against terrorism directed at Israel's southern communities.
Israel must continue to act against rocket fire and those who are behind it, she stated.
Meanwhile, US Department of State Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland issued a statement condemning the recent escalation between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
"We are deeply concerned by the renewal of violence in Southern Israel. We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel in recent days, which has dramatically and dangerously escalated in the past day. We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts.
Also on Saturday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc "is following with concern the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and in the south of Israel.
"I very much deplore the loss of civilian life. It is essential to avoid further escalation and I urge all sides to re-establish calm," she said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also trying to restore the lull. According to a statement issued by his bureau, the president held emergency consultations with the Egyptian leadership, the European Union and the Middle East Quartet. The statement also claimed Abbas instructed Palestinian officials to contact Israel and demand that it stops "its aggression" in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas also reportedly held a phone conversation with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal and with secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ramadan Shalah, during which both said they remain committed to keeping the lull with Israel, in order to prevent the IDF from launching a military operation in Gaza.
The Palestinian president issued another condemnation on Saturday against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, calling them "a dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people." Abbas noted that the government of Israel is responsible for the "deteriorating security situation due to its aggressive acts, which include assassinations, invasions and destruction of infrastructure."
However, Abbas also called on the Palestinians to refrain from escalating the violence, which he said would give Israel an excuse to evade international efforts to revive the peace process.
Meanwhile, Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh stated Saturday evening that his top priority was to protect the Palestinian people and stop Israeli aggression. Haniyeh noted that he is in contact with several elements in order to promote these goals.
The Arab League condemned Israel's military attacks in the Gaza Strip, calling the strikes a "massacre." The League's foreign ministers, who met on Saturday in Cairo, urged the international community to oppose IAF activities in the Strip, saying they fear a "dangerous escalation in besieged Gaza."
Earlier, Egypt's foreign minister condemned Israel's air strikes on Gaza and called for an immediate end to the attacks, the state news agency MENA reported.
"Egypt is highly distraught by the Israeli attacks," MENA quoted Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr as saying on Saturday. "Egypt is currently exerting efforts and making crucial calls for an immediate end to this Israeli escalation to end bloodshed of our brothers."
Arab media outlets also reported that a delegation of Hamas leaders headed by Mahmoud al-Zahar, have left the Gaza Strip for Cairo in order to discuss the escalation in violence between the Palestinians and Israel.
According to the reports, the delegation also includes other top Hamas officials.
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report
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