Arab League urges int'l protection for Gaza
CAIRO, Egypt – 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, July 14.
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 on Monday, and the Palestinian death toll rose to 172, 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 Mahmud Abbas in the 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 then 200 others intercepted, the army says.
The Arab League meeting comes amid intense international efforts to broker a truce, and with Abbas seeking United Nations intervention.
The Arab response has been lackluster compared with its reaction to an 8-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 8-day war.
Ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, have worsened since Egypt's military ousted president Mohamed 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 on Sunday, July 13, 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. – Rappler.com