World Council of Churches condemns Gaza violence

Geneva, Switzerland - The violence in the Gaza Strip "must stop immediately," the head of the World Council of Churches said Monday, calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed in. "The deaths and suffering of the last three days are dreadful and shameful and will achieve nothing but more deaths and suffering," Samuel Kobia, a reverend, said in a statement.

The United States, the European Union, and the United Nations along with the Arab League and governments in the region, Kobia said, "must use their good offices to see that all those who are at risk are protected on both sides of the border, and must ensure access for emergency and medical aid."

He warned that a ground offensive would worsen the situation in Gaza and condemned both the Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire.

Calls for a cessation to the violence, which begin with an Israeli offensive on Saturday said to be in response to Palestinian rocket fire in the previous week, have also come from United Nations officials, while the International Committee of the Red Cross has called for "restraint."

The ICRC said hospitals in the enclave were overwhelmed and medical supplies were severely depleted.

At least 310 Palestinians are said to have been killed so far with a UN official noting that over 50 of the dead were civilians. Two Israeli civilians have died in over 100 rocket attacks emanating from Gaza since Saturday.