BEIRUT

Middle East

Arab League urges international protection for Gaza

A Palestinian woman reacts in front of the remains of her house, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

CAIRO: The Arab League has called on the international community to end Israeli air strikes on Gaza and to protect Palestinians, ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting later Monday.

The call, in a report to be submitted to the ministerial meeting, comes as Israel pressed its campaign of punishing raids on Gaza into a seventh day Monday, and the Palestinian death toll rose to more than 170, with another 1,230 wounded.

The Arab League "affirmed the necessity of urgent steps for an immediate end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and providing protection for the Palestinians," the report said.

Israeli "air strikes on Gaza have become a matter that cannot be met with silence anymore," it said.

The pan-Arab organization "demands that the international community intervene through its legal and humanitarian institutions to protect the Palestinian people."

The call echoes a demand by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based.

The Israeli campaign was launched in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

So far, no Israelis have been killed since the operation began on July 8, despite 777 rockets hitting Israel and more than 200 others intercepted, the army says.

The Arab League meeting comes amid intense international efforts to broker a truce, and with Abbas seeking U.N. intervention.

The Arab response has been lackluster compared with its reaction to an eight-day war in 2012, when it sent Arab ministers to visit the besieged enclave in a show of support.

An Egyptian foreign ministry statement said Monday's meeting, due to begin at 1900 GMT, "is aimed at finding a solution to stop the shedding of Palestinian civilians' blood and to formulate a common Arab stance on the issue."

So far, efforts to secure a ceasefire have been unsuccessful, with Cairo taking more hands-off approach than in 2012, when it brokered an end to the eight-day war.

Ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, have worsened since Egypt's military ousted president Mohammad Morsi last July.

Morsi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an affiliate. After removing Morsi, Egypt's military-installed authorities designated the Brotherhood a "terrorist" organization.

World leaders have been in contact with Egyptian officials, including President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, to discuss ways of ending the latest conflict.

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday that his government was not contemplating a ceasefire yet, hoping the military campaign would deter Hamas in the future.

A Hamas official said the militant Islamist movement, the main power in Gaza since 2007, has said it would not agree to a ceasefire without gaining terms.

 

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Summary

The Arab League has called on the international community to end Israeli air strikes on Gaza and to protect Palestinians, ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting later Monday.

The Israeli campaign was launched in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

The Arab League meeting comes amid intense international efforts to broker a truce, and with Abbas seeking U.N. intervention.

Ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, have worsened since Egypt's military ousted president Mohammad Morsi last July.

A Hamas official said the militant Islamist movement, the main power in Gaza since 2007, has said it would not agree to a ceasefire without gaining terms.


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