KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday condemned Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza and called for an “immediate stop” to violence against civilians, a statement from his office said.
“President Hamid Karzai strongly condemns the strikes by Israel against the Palestinian territory that have killed and injured a number of innocent civilians,” the statement said.
“Harming civilians is unjustifiable on any side and anywhere,” the president was quoted as saying.
“Afghanistan fully supports any efforts that can ensure a ceasefire,” he added.
Afghanistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and has supported the Palestinian cause for a separate state in the past.
“We have always defended Palestinians’ right for an independent state and we will continue to stand behind them in the future,” foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told AFP.
Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday Islamic countries must close ranks and respond to Israel’s deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip.
“Putting an end to the Zionist (Israeli) regime’s crimes is only possible through a united, revolutionary retaliation by the Muslim world,” Vahidi said in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency.
Israel is “massacring the oppressed Palestinian people, including women and children” and its strikes amount to a “clear example of war crimes,” the defence minister charged.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is extremely concerned about the conflict in Gaza and has called on his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to arrive at a truce, Monti’s office said on Saturday.
In a telephone conversation with Netanyahu, Monti “expressed extreme concern over the continued violence,” which began on Wednesday when Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari.
He called for “a truce between the parties as soon as possible, to bring to an end the fighting and allow dialogue and peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to begin again.”
On Friday, Monti had called on Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to play an “active role” in helping Israel and Gaza arrive at a truce.
Netanyahu told Monti he was “certain Italy could play a central role in finding a solution to the crisis, particularly thanks to the excellent rapport it has with Eygpt,” the statement said.