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“The guns must fall silent”

As the situation in the Middle East escalates, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle calls on all parties in the region to be mindful of their responsibilities. Article published in Bild am Sonntag on 18 November 2012

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The images reaching us from the Middle East are profoundly shocking. People fear war is imminent.

Clearly Israel has the right to call a halt to violence in the form of Hamas rocket strikes. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people.

The Israeli Government is acting to protect its citizens. What’s triggered the spiral of violence are the Hamas rockets. But it’s also clear the situation is extremely dangerous. There is a risk of the situation in the whole region escalating. Right now everyone must be mindful of their responsibilities.

This is a time for level-headedness, a sense of perspective and de escalation. The vicious circle of doom and destruction must be broken.

We call on all concerned to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. The next step is to bring about a ceasefire. The groundwork must be laid for the guns to fall silent. That requires first and foremost an end to the rocket strikes from Gaza.

Here Egypt has a key role to play. It wields influence in Gaza and with those in control there. President Morsi has steered a responsible course to date. We are keen for him to use his good offices to end the senseless rocket strikes and pave the way for a ceasefire.

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