|VIOLENCE IN GAZA AND LEBANON: HOWELLS' CONCERN (21/05/07)|
Following Israeli air raids on Gaza, Dr Howells said:
'I am deeply concerned to hear of the recent deaths of several Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli airstrikes. Amongst those killed and wounded were a number of children. We recognise Israel's right to defend itself from rocket attacks, but any response should be in accordance with international law and it should seek to avoid civilian casualties. For the sake of the people of Gaza and southern Israel, we want to see a complete halt to internal violence in Gaza and to rocket attacks into Israel. The continuing violence is creating a situation of intolerable suffering for those living in the Gaza Strip, and impacting heavily on the residents of Sderot.'
Regarding the escalation of violence in Lebanon he commented:
'I am disturbed by the fighting at the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. The existence of extremists sympathetic to Al Qaeda in the camp is a threat to Lebanon and the broader region and the vast majority of Palestinians in that camp and others oppose them. The high number of casualties makes this some of the bloodiest internal fighting since the civil war, and undermines the cause of peace and stability in Lebanon. We support the Lebanese authorities in bringing the situation under control. We welcome the efforts of the International Red Cross to address urgently the humanitarian situation and allow the delivery of basic medical and humanitarian supplies into the camp.
'The violence in Lebanon reinforces the need for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and subsequent Resolutions, which call for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. We also condemn the bomb attack in Ashrafieh in Beirut on 20 May, which has killed at least one person and injured many others. There can be no justification for such attacks, which only exacerbate an already tense political climate.'