DOHA: The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani warned that Israel’s deadly raids on the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip must not go unpunished, state news agency QNA reported yesterday.
“This vicious attack must not pass unpunished,” QNA quoted the Premier as saying at a Wednesday meeting in Saudi Arabia of the six Gulf Arab nations and Russia.
“The UN Security Council must take up its responsibility to secure peace and security in the world,” he said, adding the latest escalation of violence in Gaza is likely to “promote extremism”. “We reject extremism and terrorism but such irresponsible and unjustified attacks must be condemned by the world,” the Prime Minister said.
Militants defied a major Israeli bombing campaign across Gaza yesterday, firing off volleys of rockets which killed three Israelis and sparked panic in Tel Aviv. Gaza medics reported 16 Palestinians killed in two days of air raids, among them seven militants and three children, a woman and two elderly men, and 150 people have been injured.
As Palestinian deaths mounted, Defence Minister Ehud Barak gave the go-ahead for 30,000 reservists to be called up and the military said it was “in the process of expanding the campaign”.
Egypt, meanwhile, announced that Prime Minister Hisham Qandil would visit Gaza today, as Washington urged Cairo to use its influence to try to halt the violence.
But Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement remained defiant. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri insisted the Islamist movement was not interested by talk of a truce. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned he was ready to “significantly expand” the campaign against the territory.
Soon after he spoke, a rocket hit the sea just south of Tel Aviv, the farthest that a rocket from Gaza had ever landed inside Israel. The attack sparked panic in Tel Aviv, with television images showing people lying on the ground outside the defence ministry, their hands over their heads as sirens wailed.
The military’s official spokesman said that no rocket had “hit the ground.” Israeli news networks said it was the first time rockets had been fired at the city since the 1991 Gulf War, when it was hit by Iraqi Scud missiles.
The armed wing of the radical Islamic Jihad quickly claimed it had fired an Iranian-made Fajr 5 rocket at the sprawling coastal city in central Israel.
Israel’s biggest military campaign against Gaza began on Wednesday with the targeted killing of top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari. Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defence, the military said it had carried out more than 150 air strikes as armed groups fired more than 380 rockets at southern Israel.
And in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi, police said two men and a woman were killed when a rocket hit their home, and that another 19 people had been injured in various areas.
The Israeli operation prompted an outpouring of anger across the Arab and Muslim world, with Tehran accusing the Jewish state of “organised terrorism”. Egypt’s Islamist administration, which has close ties with Hamas, immediately recalled its ambassador in protest.