Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called on rival Hamas to renew a truce with Israel in order to avoid 'further bloodshed' in Gaza.
"We have warned of this grave danger and said that we should remove all the pretexts used by Israel. We all hope to end the aggression and return to the calm. We want to protect Gaza," Abbas said Sunday after meeting with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
Hamas refuses to renew a truce with Tel Aviv, saying that Israel does not live up to its end of the deal. Under a six-month Egypt-brokered truce, which ended on Friday December 19, Israel had promised to ease Gaza blockade, open border crossings, and halt incursions into Gaza in exchange for an end to Gazans' retaliatory fire.
Israel, however, failed to halt cross-border attacks or lift the blockade and further intensified the siege in early December as the truce was nearing its deadline.
Israel attacked the Gaza Strip on Saturday, leaving 230 people dead and nearly 800 others in critical condition. The number of the Palestinian casualties rose to over 280 on Sunday.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who also held talks with Abbas, said a renewal of the truce should be a priority. "There has been calm [in the Gaza Strip] and we should work to restore it," said Aboul Gheit.
Egypt condemned the Israeli raids on Saturday, urging the US, Russia and France to call for and end to the onslaught.
"We summoned the Israeli ambassador and we said we refuse this aggression and we demanded an immediate end to it," Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki was quoted by AFP as saying on Sunday.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
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