BRUSSELS

JANUARY 13 2009 14:31h

Israeli Strikes Disproportionate - EU Aid Chief

An explosion is seen after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

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EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said the Jewish stat`s response to Hamas` rocket attacks were `totally disproportionate`.

 Israel's military strikes in the Gaza Strip were disproportionate and breach international law, the European Union's aid chief was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

In some of the toughest criticism by an EU official since Israel began an 18-day offensive that has killed more than 900 Palestinians, EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said the Jewish stat's response to Hamas' rocket attacks were "totally disproportionate".

"One simple fact, acknowledged and denounced by established experts in the field, is that Israel is not respecting international humanitarian law," Michel told Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique in an interview published on Tuesday.

"The first obligation is that an occupying power has the obligation to preserve the life of populations, to protect them, to nourish them and to care for them. That is manifestly not the case here," he added.

Michel did say it was hard to pin the responsibility on any one party, saying it was clear that Hamas had harassed Israel with its continuous rocket attacks.