The Arab League on Saturday condemned the escalation in violence on Gaza which has left 15 Palestinians dead since Friday.
At its Cairo meeting the group of Arab states called on the international community to intervene and held Israel responsible for the violence.
Israeli airstrikes have pounded the coastal strip, injuring 26 people, including a Ma’an reporter and his wife. Five of the injured are in a serious condition. Gaza militants fired volleys of rockets into southern Israel, injuring four Israelis, one seriously. Eight others have been treated for shock.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Saturday its air strikes would continue.
“This round in the Strip is still far from over,” he told reporters on a visit to the south of the country where around half a million Israelis have been told to stay indoors and keep bomb shelters open.
The rising toll of the violence has sparked international concern for the safety of civilians on both sides.
The spokesman for UN special envoy for the peace process Robert Serry told Ma’an: “We call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint, and we deplore the fact that civilians are paying the price for this violence.”
“We’re very concerned about this latest escalation,” Richard Miron said.
Meanwhile EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement: “I very much deplore the loss of civilian life. It is essential to avoid further escalation and I urge all sides to re-establish calm.”
Earlier, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said Egypt is “highly distraught by the Israeli attacks.”
“Egypt is currently exerting efforts and making crucial calls for an immediate end to this Israeli escalation to end bloodshed of our brothers,” state news agency MENA quoted him saying.
About the author: Maan
Launched in 2005, Ma'an News Agency (MNA) publishes news around the clock in Arabic and English, and is among the most browsed websites in the Palestinian territories, with over 3 million visits per month.