PARIS – European Union nations pushed Tuesday for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and gathered their foreign ministers in Paris for an urgent meeting on the crisis in Gaza.
Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, spoke with Israeli, Egyptian and Syrian officials to explore the possibility of a "humanitarian cease-fire" in Gaza, his ministry said.
Steinmeier wanted to explore ways to ease delivery of aid to people in Gaza and allow diplomatic efforts to create a permanent cease-fire, his ministry said. Germany sent its deputy foreign minister, Guenter Gloser, to the Paris meeting.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also said the EU must maintain calls for a cease-fire and examine the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza.
"The scale of the need is huge, not just for food and medicine but also for fuel," Miliband told BBC radio.
And French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner spoke Tuesday to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to push an immediate cease-fire to allow aid and medical help into Gaza, and to evacuate the wounded, his ministry said. The proposal was being discussed at the Paris meeting.
France, which hosted the Paris meeting and holds the EU's rotating presidency until Thursday, when the Czech Republic takes over, said border points with Hamas-ruled Gaza should be reopened so aid can get through.
The European Commission asked Israel to allow relief workers into the Gaza area. In a statement Tuesday, the European Commission asked Israel "to open up the humanitarian space" so aid and relief workers can reach the Gaza area.
Norway announced it was giving $4.3 million in immediate humanitarian aid for Gaza residents.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said hospitals in Gaza need medical equipment urgently. Norway's donation will be channeled through humanitarian organizations and U.N. agencies.
Cyprus announced Tuesday it would provide about $211,500 in emergency assistance for Gaza.
About 150 Palestinian demonstrators and local activists protested near the Israeli embassy in Cyprus, burning Israeli flags and chanting. Riot police kept them about 100 yards from the embassy and the protest ended peacefully.
More than 370 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began attacks directed against Gaza's Hamas rulers on Saturday, shortly after a six-month truce expired. Most of the dead were members of Hamas security forces but the number included at least 64 civilians, according to U.N. figures.