San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica criticizes Israel, Hamas

Costa Rica has joined calls for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, where Israeli tanks, troops and bombs have killed about 550 people since Israel began attacking the area 10 days ago.

In a cautious statement released yesterday, the Foreign Ministry criticized both Israeli authorities and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, who Israel says provoked the attack by firing rockets into southern Israel.

“We condemn the excessive use of force by Israel, and we condemn terrorist acts by Hamas against Israeli territory, including the launching of rockets,” the statement said.

The statement also expressed “deep concern” over civilian casualties in Gaza and called for greater humanitarian aid to Palestinians living there.

The United Nations Security Council, where Costa Rica has a non-permanent seat, issued a non-binding statement in late December calling for an end to the violence. Arab countries yesterday were drafting a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza, according to Reuters.

Last February, Costa Rica angered some Israel supporters by recognizing  Palestine as a state, a step the United Nations and United States have not yet taken.

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