Middle East

Iran urges end to 'human catastrophe' in Gaza

Palestinians collect their belongings from the rubble of their house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

TEHRAN: Iran's foreign ministry condemned Wednesday the Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, calling on the West to urge the Jewish state to prevent a "human catastrophe."

The remarks by Iran, traditional ally of Palestinian militant group Hamas, came after Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Gaza as part of a major campaign to halt rocket fire from the enclave.

"We are, unfortunately, witnessing the escalation of savage aggression by the Zionists in recent days against the innocent and defenseless people of Palestine," ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in her weekly briefing with reporters.

Iran calls on "Western countries and supporters of the Zionist regime (to) take firm a stance and prevent a human catastrophe and stop the attacks," she added, while questioning an "unrealistic excuse of the kidnapping of three Zionist settlers."

At least 28 fatalities have been reported in Gaza since the launch of Operation Protective Edge early Tuesday, with Israel not ruling out a ground operation.

Hamas said it fired four rockets early Wednesday at Tel Aviv, 60 kilometers north of Gaza, setting sirens blaring across the city.

Iran supports a Palestinian state and has long been an ally of Hamas, with Israel regularly accusing Tehran of supplying the group with weapons and rockets.

Iran's continued support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, however, has driven a wedge between Iran and Hamas.





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