Egypt PM decries Gaza ‘disaster’

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (L) and senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh wave to people in Gaza City November 16, 2012. Photo: Reuters

Egypt’s prime minister has condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza as a disaster during a short visit to the territory.

Hisham Qandil, who visited a hospital and talked to Palestinian politicians during his three-hour visit, said Israeli “aggression” must stop.

Israel struck at more than 130 targets overnight and militants fired 11 rockets from Gaza.

At least 18 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Israel began its offensive on Wednesday.

The Israeli army began an initial draft of 16,000 reservists on Friday, after the government authorised the call-up of 30,000.

The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza says there is not yet any sign of a ground offensive.

Ministry building wrecked

Militants and civilians, including at least five children, are among the Palestinian dead, Palestinian officials say.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

Qandil visited the Council of Ministers building in Gaza, and also a hospital treating those wounded in attacks.

His Muslim Brotherhood now dominates the Egyptian government and has close ties with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Israel had agreed to stop firing during his visit, but only if militants also stopped their rocket attacks.

Shortly after Qandil’s arrival, Israeli officials said they had launched air strikes because rockets had continued to hit Israeli cities.

Israel killed a Hamas military leader on Wednesday, sparking intense violence and rumours of an invasion.

Explosions continued in Gaza throughout the night, with huge blasts rocking Gaza City as dawn broke on Friday.

Witnesses said parts of the Gaza interior ministry were destroyed in the overnight raids.

Israel said it had targeted dozens of rocket-launching facilities in the territory.

In recent days, militants say they have fired more than 350 rockets from Gaza.

Israel said 130 rockets had been intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system.

In Tel Aviv on Thursday, residents took cover after air-raid sirens alerted them to a missile threat for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad said it had fired an Iranian-built Fajr-5 rocket, which has an estimated range of 75km (45km).

Reports said two missiles had landed near Tel Aviv: one hit an uninhabited area and another is thought to have landed in the sea.

Source: The Daily Star

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