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Germany Blames Hamas for Gaza Violence


Germany is blaming the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the escalation of violence with Israel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday also called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties in its attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a halt to all violence in Gaza and a restoration of calm to the area.

Mr. Ban said he deplores the violence and is saddened by the casualties. He also called on Israel to open its border crossings with Gaza so humanitarian aid can be delivered.

The U.N. Security Council also called an end to the violence after several hours of emergency talks earlier Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the Bush administration holds Hamas responsible for the renewed violence.

Pope Benedict called for negotiations to replace what he described as a "perverse logic of confrontation and violence" and a "tragic succession of attacks and reprisals."

France said its President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned what he called the "provocations" that led to Israel's offensive on Gaza and a "disproportionate use of force" in the area.

Hundreds of anti-Israel activists rallied Sunday in London, Paris and Madrid to protest the Israeli offensive.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Israel should stop its military action in Gaza immediately and allow humanitarian aid to reach the territory. Moscow says he made the comments in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, on Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.


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