China on Monday called for “maximum restraint” by all parties, especially Israel, in the Gaza Strip conflict as the death toll from air strikes on the territory rose to 87.
The statement came as Israel pushed raids against Palestinian Hamas militants into a sixth day and geared up to expand operations with a ground offensive even as international efforts to broker a ceasefire gathered pace.
“We strongly urge relevant parties, in particular Israel, to exercise maximum restraint,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“China supports Arab countries’ just position on the Israeli-Arab issue.”
A UN Security Council member, China has voiced support for the Palestinian push for statehood and urged the international community to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not played an active role itself.
As with the neighbouring conflict in Syria, China generally opposes intervention in the internal affairs of other nations.
Senior officials from Hamas, which controls Gaza, have said that Egypt-mediated talks held on Sunday with Israel were “positive” but now focused on the need to guarantee the terms of any truce.
Analysts say Israel’s leadership appears satisfied with the success of Operation Pillar of Defence, which it launched in an effort to halt Palestinian rocket fire, and that could it be ready for a ceasefire.
The Israeli operation began with the targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari in an air strike last Wednesday.
The latest deaths came after a night of air strikes and sustained fire from navy ships.
- Israel presses Gaza assault as rocket panics Tel Aviv
- Israel raids kill 31 in Gaza as truce efforts intensify
- New Israeli warnings on Gaza after rocket fire
- UN holds emergency session on Israel strikes, takes no action
- More diplomacy to try to halt Israel-Gaza fighting
- Rocket targets Jerusalem as Israel mobilises
- Rockets hit near Tel Aviv as Gaza death toll rises