The UAE condemns Israeli raids on Gaza and backs an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
Arab states condemn 'Israeli aggression'
CAIRO // Israel's attack on Gaza was met with condemnation from throughout the Arab world, as Arab leaders called for an emergency Arab League summit, while Egypt opened its borders to Palestinian wounded for treatment. The UAE condemned the attack on the Gaza Strip yesterday, the state news agency WAM reported, lending its support to a Jordanian proposal for an emergency Arab League meeting to formulate a unified Arab position and seek to bring an end to the attacks on Gaza. Amr Mussa, the secretary general of the Cairo-based Arab League, called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers "to discuss the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip". League ambassadors were to meet last night and Arab foreign ministers were due to meet today. Mr Mussa also asked Libya, as a member of the United National Security Council, to organise an emergency meeting on the subject of the Israeli raids. "We call for an immediate end to Israeli military operations. We cannot allow these attacks to continue. We cannot permit the murder of Palestinians," Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, said on Egyptian state television. Egypt, one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace deal with Israel, summoned Shalom Cohen, the Israeli ambassador, to call for an end to the bombardment. "We said we refuse this aggression and we demanded an immediate end to it," a foreign ministry spokesman said. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Saudi King Abdullah called for an immediate halt to the raids, a Palestinian diplomatic source said by telephone from Rawdat Kharim, south of Riyadh, after the two leaders met. Mr Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudienah said in a statement that the president called on Israel to "immediately stop this aggression", urging the international community to intervene. A UN statement said Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, was deeply alarmed by "the heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel". The UN leader "appeals for an immediate halt to all violence" and reiterates "previous calls for humanitarian supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed civilian population." "The latest Israeli massacre is a war crime and shows what little regard Israel has for international law and the 4th Geneva convention on the protection of civilians in time of war," the chief of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said in a statement. The attacks occured at a time of political transition both in Israel and the US, with Israeli politicians preparing for elections in February, while the US prepares for a transition from President George W Bush to president-elect Barack Obama. In Washington, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president instructed security officials to open the Rafah terminal, the sole border crossing bypassing Israel, so that wounded Palestinians could be treated in Egyptian hospitals. Dozens of wounded had already passed through overnight, with hundreds more expected, state media reported. A security official said helicopters were being sent to Rafah to fly some of the wounded to hospitals in Cairo. Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamic opposition group, described the Gaza raids as "a heinous, barbaric massacre". Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and was the prime target of the attacks, is an offshoot of the Brotherhood. He said, in comments published on the Muslim Brotherhood's website, that the strikes reveal the "complicity" of "international regimes". Among countries he accused of being complicit in the attacks was "the Egyptian regime, which didn't reject or condemn [Israeli foreign minister Tzipi] Livni's threats when she was in Cairo". Mr Akef said the "massacre will revive a resistance spirit" and mobilise Muslims. While in Egypt, Ms Livni, who is running for prime minister in Israeli elections in February, openly vowed to eradicate Hamas. Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the centre of Ramallah. One placard read "We will not forget you, Gaza". Hundreds more Palestinians protested in south Lebanon. Demonstrators in Ain al Helweh - the largest of the country's 12 refugee camps with 45,000 residents - burnt tyres and dustbins and blocked the main road. About 4,000 protesters marched through the camp, condemning the attacks in general, and Egypt in particular. "Hosni Mubarak, you agent of the Americans, you traitor!" they shouted. They also called on the militant group Hizbollah to attack Israel. Protesters in Amman demonstrated in front of the UN headquarters, waving Hamas banners and condemning Israel's strikes. firstname.lastname@example.org * With agencies