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CAIRO: Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel yesterday after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed Hamas’ top military commander and at least six other Palestinians, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.
“President Mohammed Mursi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” Yasser Ali said in a statement on television and on his Facebook website.
“On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council ... and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault,” the statement added.
The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip called on Arab states, especially Egypt, to halt Israel’s assault on the Palestinian enclave, which was launched earlier yesterday. “We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt ... and the new Egyptian presidency, to suppress this barbaric campaign in defence of Gaza and its people,” Ismail Haniyah, the prime minister of Hamas’ Gaza government said in a statement. “I call for an urgent Arab summit to confront the brutal aggression,” he added.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas slammed a series of Israeli strikes on Gaza which killed a top Hamas commander and six others, demanding an immediate end to the bloodshed.
“President Abbas condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza,” said a statement carried on the official Wafa news agency which was issued shortly after an Israeli strike hit a car in Gaza City, killing Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari. “Abbas warned of the seriousness of the Israeli escalation and demanded an immediate end to the aggression.
“Abbas asked the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil Al Arabi, to call an emergency meeting... to discuss the dangerous Israel escalation and brutal aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip,” Wafa added.
The statement was issued from Switzerland, where Abbas was holding meetings with officials ahead of a bid to seek enhanced membership at the United Nations later this month. “It seems that Israel prepared a wide-scale aggression against the Gaza Strip, despite Egyptian efforts to reach a calm,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said. “There was a clear Israeli plan to assassinate Jaabari and massively bomb the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Israel sent a “clear message” to Hamas through the killing of its top military commander and is ready to widen its operation in Gaza if necessary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned yesterday. “Today we sent a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organisations, and if it becomes necessary we are prepared to expand the operation,” he said in a televised address.
Speaking several hours after a major wave of air strikes pounded militant targets in the Gaza Strip, killing top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari and six other Palestinians, Netanyahu vowed Israel would not tolerate any further rocket fire on its territory.
“Hamas and the terror organisations have chosen to escalate their attacks on the citizens of Israel in recent days. We will not tolerate a situation in which Israeli citizens are threatened by rocket fire,” he said after consultations with his security cabinet. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the strike was only the beginning of an operation whose goals were to strengthen Israel’s deterrence, damage militant groups’ rocket-firing capabilities and stamp out attacks on southern Israel.