Belgium urges against Mid-East escalation
13 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht has joined the EU in condemning the rapid escalation of the situation in the Mid-East.
13 July 2006
BRUSSELS — Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht has joined the EU in condemning the rapid escalation of the situation in the Mid-East.
The EU said it is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hezbollah on Israel.
The presidency also deplores the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. It said the imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified.
Belgian minister De Gucht also said he is "exceptionally concerned" about the situation.
"I strongly condemn the operation of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, in which Israeli soldiers were killed and kidnapped," De Gucht said.
"This [operation] clearly had the goal to escalate and give a regional dimension to a very tense situation after the recent events in the Gaza Strip.
"The captured Israeli soldiers must be immediately freed."
De Gucht also said Israel has the right to defend itself, but stressed that its reaction is out of proportion.
"I condemn the blockade of Lebanon by Israel and the massive use of violence which has already led to numerous victims, including many children," the Liberal VLD minister said.
"All parties, also the neighbouring countries of Israel, must act with utmost responsibility and avoid any further escalation."
De Gucht's comment came as Israel imposed an air and sea blockade on Lebanon on Thursday. Israeli warships have blocked Lebanese ports and its international airport was closed after Israeli bombing.
A Lebanese cabinet minister said the Israeli response was disproportionate and called for a ceasefire.
The operation comes as Israel continues a separate offensive in the Gaza Strip following the capture of an Israeli soldier in June.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news