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G7 calls for 'humanitarian pauses' in Gaza

The G7 top diplomats have called for "humanitarian pauses" in the fighting to allow badly-needed aid into Gaza

The G7 top diplomats have called for "humanitarian pauses" in the fighting to allow badly-needed aid into Gaza

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies called on Wednesday for "humanitarian pauses" in the Gaza Strip while stressing that they condemned the militant group Hamas and supported Israel's right to defend itself.

The ministers met in Tokyo to agree on a unified stance on the war. Their statement balanced between criticizing Hamas' deadly October 7 attacks against Israel and pushing for "urgent action" to help civilians in need of food, water, medical care and shelter in Gaza.

What did the G7 foreign ministers say?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy emphasized that they "support humanitarian pauses to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement and the release of hostages."

The top diplomats also condemned "the rise in extremist settler violence committed against Palestinians," describing it as "unacceptable undermines security in the West Bank, and threatens prospects for a lasting peace."

The statement also said the ministers "emphasize Israel's right to defend itself and its people in accordance with international law as it seeks to prevent a recurrence" of the Hamas attacks.

"We call on Iran to refrain from providing support for Hamas and taking further actions that destabilize the Middle East, including support for Lebanese Hezbollah and other non-state actors, and to use its influence with those groups to de-escalate regional tensions," the statement read.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several G7 countries, as well as by Israel and a number of other states.

Hezbollah is also considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries, while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

G7 'unity' in face of geopolitical challenges

Following the talks, officials stressed the bloc's "unity" in the face of geopolitical challenges.

"This is a very important moment as well for the G7 to come together in the face of this crisis and to speak, as we do, with one clear voice," US Secretary of State Blinken said.

The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: "The unity of G7 is needed more than ever with the situation in Israel and Palestine, the situation in Ukraine, and the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region."

Blinken arrived in Tokyo for the meeting, following a Middle East tour which included stops both in Israel and the West Bank. The visit was his second to the region since the conflict erupted a month ago.

The UN said thousands of Palestinians are fleeing south on foot in the Gaza Strip, after running out of food and water in the north.

rmt/sms (AFP, AP)