07/09/2014 11:47 EDT | Updated 09/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Harper Confirms Canada's Support For Israel Amid Ongoing Tensions


OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Canada’s support for Israel Wednesday in a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister’s Office says Netanyahu updated Harper on the situation in Israel, including steps taken to defend itself against attacks by Hamas.

The Israeli military pummelled Palestinian targets again Wednesday across the Gaza Strip and threatened a broad ground offensive.

Israel began an offensive on Tuesday in response to weeks of rocket launches, and officials said the airstrikes would continue until the firing stops.

As the Palestinian death toll rose to at least 75, neither side showed any sign of halting their heaviest fighting since an eight-day battle in late 2012.

The PMO says Harper reiterated Canada's steadfast support for Israel and its right to defend itself against terror attacks. Both leaders agreed that Hamas must end its targeted attacks on Israeli citizens.

The first diplomatic efforts to end the heavy fighting began underway Wednesday with Egypt speaking to all sides about ending the violence.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in touch with Israel to try to lower tensions. And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of a "deteriorating situation ... which could quickly get beyond anyone’s control."

Netanyahu also spoke Wednesday with Kerry, Ban and German leader Angela Merkel.

_ with files from The Associated Press

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