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Egypt denounces Israeli 'escalation' in Gaza

Egypt demands Hamas and Israel accept Cairo-proposed truce as Israel launches ground offensive against Gaza after 10-day bombardment
Smoke rises from the house following the Israeli air missiles during the clashes in Gaza city, Gaza on July 17, 2014 (AA)

Egypt's foreign ministry denounced Israel's "escalation" in Gaza after the start of a ground offensive late on Thursday, and again demanded both sides accept a Cairo proposed truce.

The ground operation came after 10 days of Israeli bombardment of the coastal strip.

The Egyptian ministry said the Israeli military operations that would only "inflame" the situation and not help Israeli security.

"Egypt condemns the Israeli escalation in Gaza and calls for self-control as its air strikes and ground operation only aggravate the situation and do not help preserve Israel's security," the foreign ministry said.

It said both Israel and Hamas must "immediately and unconditionally accept the Egyptian (ceasefire) proposal as it offers protection to the Palestinian people. It is the only way to halt the aggression and preserve the blood of our brotherly Palestinian people."

"Egypt stresses the legal responsibility of Israel as an occupying power to protect the lives of civilians and refrain from methods of collective punishment and the use of excessive and unjustified force," read the ministry’s statement.

Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri criticised Hamas, saying it could have saved dozens of lives had it accepted Cairo's ceasefire proposal presented earlier this week.

The Egyptian government also called on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities” in confronting the “dangerous escalation” and work on delivering humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

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