Israeli tanks stand on the edge of a cabbage field outside the central Gaza Strip July 10, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
EU leaders on Wednesday condemned the firing of rockets into Israel while urging the Jewish state to "act proportionately" and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.
Voicing "great concern" over continued violence in Israel and Gaza, EU leaders said the bloc "condemns the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians."
"Israel has the right to protect its population (but) in doing so it must act proportionately and ensure the protection of civilians at all times," a European Union statement added.
Issued at a summit, it said the 28-nation bloc "deeply deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli military operations."
"The European Council calls on both sides to de-escalate the situation, to end the violence, to end the suffering of the civilian populations notably by allowing access to humanitarian assistance, and return to calm."
Welcoming regional efforts to broker a truce, notably by Israel, the EU "calls on Hamas to agree on such a ceasefire," it added.