The British Foreign Secretary has said that terrorist group Hamas bears "principal responsibility" for the military operation Israel is now conducting in Gaza.
William Hague said he "utterly condemned" the rocket attacks by Hamas militants on southern Israel, with nearly 200 fired at civilian areas in less than 24 hours.
"This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza," he said. "The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious."
"Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately," he said. "I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks."
Mr Hague also urged Israel to work to reduce tension in the region, following events on Wednesday which saw the IDF strike senior Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, who had been one of the terrorist group's most important figures and was first on Israel's most-wanted list.
He called on the Israeli leadership to "avoid the risk of a spiral of violence", arguing that nobody would benefit from the escalation of the conflict. His comments come amid fears of a repeat of the situation that sparked the Israeli foot incursion into Gaza in December 2008.
The Foreign Secretary expressed regret about the loss of civilian life on both sides.