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Kenya urges Israel to end Gaza offensive

Monday January 12 2009

A wounded Palestinian is brought into Shifa

A wounded Palestinian is brought into Shifa hospital during Israel's offensive in Gaza January 12, 2009. Photo/REUTERS 


Israel should immediately halt its military offensive inside the Palestinian territory of Gaza, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said on Monday.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi, Mr Wetangula made clear Kenya’s official stance on many unfolding conflicts around the world, including the controversial Israeli campaign that recently entered its third week.

The assault aims to limit the ability of Hamas, the militant political party that governs Gaza, to acquire smuggled weapons and fire short-range rockets into nearby Israeli towns.

But the operation has attracted widespread condemnation for the large death toll among Palestinian civilians, and Mr Wetang’ula did not hesitate to join in during yesterday’s press conference.

“We urge Israel to stop bombarding and invading Palestinian territory,” he said, criticising the “enormous destruction of property and the loss of life.” So far, the fighting has killed over 900 Palestinians and wounded thousands of others, according to health workers on the ground.

But the Foreign Affairs minister had equally harsh words for Hamas, saying that “what Hamas is doing to Israel is unacceptable…indiscriminate attacks are not helpful.”

He also discussed the situation in Somalia, where the country’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) could soon collapse following a series of negative developments. The recent developments include the resignation of Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf, the decision by Ethiopia to withdraw its pro-TFG troops, the dramatic increase in pirate attacks off the Somali coast and a growing Iraq-style insurgency by Islamist rebel groups.

Mr Wetang’ula said he is impressed by some of the political progress made since a regional summit last year.