New Zealand FM urges Israel, Hamas to stop fighting
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully on Wednesday called for Israel and Hamas to stop their attacks in the Gaza Strip, Xinhua reported.
"Attacks on United Nations facilities, including schools, in the Gaza Strip are of grave concern and underline the need for both sides of the conflict to agree to an immediate ceasefire," McCully said in a statement.
"New Zealand is deeply worried by the mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the continuing Israeli ground offensive," he said.
"We call for Israel to immediately cease military attacks and for Hamas to immediately cease rocket and mortar attacks."
New Zealand also supported the intensive efforts of world leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, to halt the fighting, he said.
"It is imperative both sides -- Israel and Hamas -- focus on the mounting humanitarian situation for the civilian population of Gaza. Both sides have obligations to avoid putting civilians in danger," he added.
"The conflict must cease before international assistance can be safely provided to those in genuine need in Gaza, and New Zealand is continuing to monitor the evolving situation through various international aid agencies," McCully said.
Pro-Palestinian protesters in New Zealand have called on the government to condemn the Israeli invasion of Gaza, but McCully has said the Government was not prepared to choose sides.
On Tuesday, around 1,000 Palestinian supporters in New Zealand marched in central Wellington, protesting against Israel's air and ground offensive in Gaza and called on the New Zealand government to end its neutral stance.