Europe leads attack condemnation
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European leaders led international condemnation of an Israeli air attack in Gaza City that killed at least 15 people and wounded 150 others.
Among the dead in Monday's attack, which Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has described as "a great success," was a senior Hamas militant and seven children -- including a 2-month-old baby. (Full story)
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a statement on Tuesday: "I strongly condemn the death of innocent civilians in last night's attack against Gaza.
"This extra-judicial killing operation, which targeted a densely populated area, comes at a time when both Israelis and Palestinians were working very seriously to curb violence and restore cooperative security arrangements.
"There were as well indications that a possible end to suicide bombings could be reached."
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, told Ritzau news agency the Israeli attack was "completely unacceptable."
European Commission President Romano Prodi branded the attack as "an act of war that fuels despair and will make the work to achieve peace much, much more difficult."
EU foreign affairs spokesman Gunnar Wiegand said the attack was "clearly disproportionate and can only breed more hatred and violence."
In a statement issued to CNN, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "I recognize and understand Israel's need to take action against suspected suicide bombers and their accomplices.
"The action taken last night, which resulted in the deaths of children among others in a missile attack in Gaza, is unacceptable and counterproductive."
A Bush administration spokesman said Tuesday the attack was "heavy handed" and "does not contribute to peace." (Full story)
The Geneva-based United Nations human rights chief Mary Robinson said the attack amounted to "reckless killing" that violated humanitarian law.
"Under international human rights and humanitarian law, the reckless killing of civilians is absolutely prohibited," she said in a statement.
Robinson, who also condemned the continuing Palestinian campaign of suicide bombing, said that Israel "must not abandon its core standards and values, even in the face of the serious security threat to its own civilian population."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, said: "The government of Israel must halt such actions and it must conduct itself in a manner which does not allow for the killing of innocent civilians."
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