'Israel doesn't make it easy on its friends': FM

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'Israel doesn't make it easy on its friends': FM
An Israeli artillery fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Scanpix

In his first public comments about the conflict in Gaza, Denmark's foreign minister Martin Lidegaard bemoaned the loss of civilian lives from Israel's military campaign.


After nearly two weeks of violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that have claimed 370 lives, Denmark’s foreign minister broke his silence on Saturday and weighed in on the conflict. 
Martin Lidegaard wrote on Facebook that the Danish government “condemned” the actions of Hamas and said Israel “doesn’t make it easy for its friends” when its military attacks result in civilian casualties. 
“Hamas and other groups in Gaza fire deadly rockets at the Israeli people indiscriminately,” Lidegaard wrote. “Hamas must enter into and respect ceasefires.”
The Danish foreign minister also criticised Israel.
“On the other hand, it is unbearable to see the many civilian lives that have been claimed by Israel’s actions. I see both myself and Denmark as friends of Israel, but Israel doesn’t always make it easy for its friends to defend the country’s actions when so many innocent men, women and children are killed,” Lidegaard wrote. 
“Everyone understands Israel’s need to defend itself. But it is hard to explain why it should cost the lives of so many innocent people,” he continued. “Therefore, a ceasefire now.”
The BBC reported on Sunday that Israel was expanding its ground operation in Gaza, with local residents reporting the most intense attacks since the conflict began on July 8th, and according to AFP at least 20 people were killed in a major Israeli assault east of Gaza City on Sunday, bringing the total Palestinian death toll to 370.
The UN estimates that the vast majority of the 350 casualties have been civilians.
Lidegaard will meet with other EU foreign ministers this coming week to address both the Gaza conflict and the downing of a civilian plan in Ukraine.
Per Clausen of the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) accused Lidegaard of being too weak in his criticism of Israel.
“I think that the Danish government should clearly condemn Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people and demand an immediate end to the attacks,” Clausen told Danmarks Radio. 


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