The Palestinian government has accused the EU and the United States of wanting to bring it to its knees. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the West was trying to strangle his government by cutting off foreign support. It comes a day after EU foreign affairs ministers voted to stop direct aid to the Hamas cabinet. Haniyeh also condemned the continuing bombardment of areas of northern Gaza by Israel.However, the Israeli Defence Minister signalled that the intention is to step up military action in the area. Israel has been firing artillery rounds for the last few months, in a bid, it says, to deter rocket attacks from Palestinian militants. Officials have expressed regret at the number of civilian deaths and injuries, but say the Palestinian attacks must be stopped. Sixteen Palestinians have died since last Friday, including 13 suspected militants and two children. And for the first time, Russia has come to the defence of the Palestinian government. The Foreign Affairs Minister condemned the EU’s decision to block aid as a mistake.