Expressing deep concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, India has called upon both sides to exercise maximum restraint.
"India is deeply concerned at the steep escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, particularly, heavy air strikes in Gaza, resulting in tragic loss of civilian lives and heavy damage to property. At the same time, India is alarmed at the cross-border provocations resulting from rocket attacks against targets in parts of Israel,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi on Thursday.
India urged both Israel and Palestine to “avoid taking actions that may further exacerbate the situation, and threaten the peace and security of the region”.
India said it remained firmly convinced that dialogue was the only viable option that could effectively address the issues confronting the region and its people.
“We call upon both sides to resume direct talks at the earliest, in adherence to the obligations assumed by them under the peace process, for a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue,” said Mr. Akbaruddin.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claimed hundreds of rockets had been fired against Israel, including at residential areas, over the last three days.
“Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired 96 rockets at Israel today, and 442 in the past 3 days,” claimed a tweet posted by the IDF spokesperson (@IDFSpokesperson).
At the same time, Islamist organization Hamas, in a statement issued on the >website of its military wing , claimed 76 Palestinian citizens were killed and nearly 550 injured in Israeli air strikes against Gaza since Monday.
Kaled Meshaal, chief of Hamas’ political bureau, appealed to Palestinians to defend themselves.
"The Palestinian people have the right to resist and defend themselves," Mr. Meshaal told a television news channel in Doha, Qatar.
"The West wants a ceasefire. First, Mr. Netanyahu should cease his aggression, halt the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, stop arresting Palestinians and end the occupation," he said.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, spokesperson of the Israeli military, said while Israel had mobilized 20,000 troops for a possible ground operation, its focus, for the time being, remained on the intensification of air strikes.