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17 May, 2021 14:34

Russian foreign minister condemns attacks on civilians in Israel & Palestine, pledging Moscow will help begin peace negotiations

Russian foreign minister condemns attacks on civilians in Israel & Palestine, pledging Moscow will help begin peace negotiations

Russia's top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, said on Monday that his country stands ready to help broker an end to the growing humanitarian crisis as both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants accuse each other of targeting civilians.

Speaking at a briefing, the veteran foreign minister told reporters that “we condemn the strikes that are being launched from the Gaza Strip to residential areas [in Israel'].” At the same time, he added, “we also, of course, condemn the completely unacceptable strikes on civilian targets in the Palestinian territories.”

Lavrov said that Russia would join a growing chorus of international calls for an “immediate end to this situation,” but he went further than a number of other states in pledging diplomatic support to resolve the crisis.

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“Now,” he said, “everything depends on the negotiability of the parties and their goodwill. We will do everything to help them find agreements to calm down the present, extremely dangerous, hot phase of the conflict and to start direct negotiations as soon as possible.”

Last week, Lavrov's deputy, Mikhail Bogdanov, held a call with representatives of Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, where Israel has been targeting what it deems to be militant installations and rocket launch sites. These are frequently in densely populated areas, and the resulting deaths and injuries have sparked an international outcry.

At the time, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement in which it “emphasized the importance of putting an immediate end to the violence, as well as the inadmissibility of attacks on civilians, regardless of their nationality and religion.”

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The officials insisted that Israel must maintain “the status quo of Jerusalem's sacred sites” and “immediately” stop all settlement activities in Palestinian areas.

Earlier on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that they had killed a top commander of the Islamic Jihad Palestinian militant group in an airstrike. Israel claims it had known his whereabouts for 15 years prior.

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