By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries support the further extension of the current pause in fighting in Gaza and future pauses to increase assistance and facilitate the release of all hostages, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
"Every effort must be made to ensure humanitarian support for civilians. ... We support the further extension of this pause and future pauses as needed to enable assistance to be scaled up, and to facilitate the release of all hostages," the joint statement added.
The current truce brought Hamas-ruled Gaza its first respite after seven weeks of bombardment that has reduced much of the coastal strip to rubble and killed more than 15,000 people, according to health officialsthere.
The G7 statement also welcomed the release of some of the hostages seized on Oct. 7 by Hamas militants when they launched an assault on Israel that killed around 1,200 people.
Hamas freed 12 more hostages and Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday, the fifth day of an extended six-day truce between the militant Palestinian group and Israel in the Gaza war. The total number of hostages released by Hamas since the start of the truce last Friday now stands at 81, while Israel has freed 180 prisoners.
"We, as the G7, urge the release of all hostages immediately and unconditionally," the G7 statement said.
It emphasized "Israel's right to defend itself and its people" but underscored the importance of "protecting civilians and compliance with international law." It also said the G7 was committed to a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.
The G7 foreign ministers cautioned against further escalation of the conflict. They urged Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis to cease threats to international shipping lanes and commercial vessels and release the Galaxy Leader commercial ship and its crew seized on Nov. 19.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)