“The possibility that diplomatic efforts over the next couple of days will lead to progress has now diminished dramatically,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who along with his French and Czech counterparts was travelling to the Middle East on Sunday to try to help bring about a Gaza ceasefire.
The Israeli ground offensive is “basically an admission that (Tel Aviv’s) air attacks over the past week have failed to achieve what they had hoped for,” Bildt said in a statement late Saturday.
“Instead of seeking a possible political solution after this failure they have now chosen to dramatically escalate the conflict with a ground offensive. It is obvious that this will make it harder to find a solution to this serious conflict,” he added.
In a separate statement Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Störe joined his Swedish colleague in condemning the attacks. Gahr said his country “vehemently distances itself from acts of war that lead to massive civilian suffering and requests that the (Israeli) troops are withdrawn immediately.”
“Continued bombing of the densely populated Gaza Strip has now become a full-blown military ground operation that is afflicting a civilian population that cannot defend itself and cannot flee,” he lamented.