Arab League to take stand on Gaza crisis

Cairo, Nov 17 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Foreign Ministers of Arab League countries will gather Saturday in Cairo for an emergency meeting to outline a consolidated position on the ongoing Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense Wednesday, killing Hamas’ military chief Ahmed al−Jabari and attacking hundreds of rocket−launching sites, ammunition depots and “terrorist” cells that belong to radical Islamist groups operating in Gaza, primarily Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 450 rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Palestinian medics say 13 militants and 16 civilians, including eight children and a pregnant woman, have been killed in the last three days by Israeli air strikes.

Residents of the Hamas−controlled Palestinian enclave say the closure of many smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt has meant supplies are running low and power cuts are frequent.

News of the first Israeli casualties was reported on Thursday −− three people were killed when a rocket launched from Gaza struck their house in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi.

In a sign of further escalation, the Israeli cabinet has authorized the military to mobilize up to 75,000 reservists in anticipation of a possible ground offensive on Gaza.

Two elite army brigades have completed the preparation to enter the Palestinian enclave “if necessary,” according to the military.

−−IANS/RIA Novosti

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