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CAIRO - The Arab League (AL) decided Saturday to send a ministerial committee headed by Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi to the Gaza Strip, where mutual attacks between Israel and Hamas remain ongoing and have left 45 Palestinians killed and around 500 wounded.
The decision was made at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting convened Saturday in the Cairo-based AL headquarters. The meeting also called for reviewing the Arab peace initiative with Israel.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby (L) and foreign ministers observe a minute of silence for victims of the military operation in the Gaza Strip, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Nov 17, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
Health ministry of the Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip said in a report Saturday night that Israel has killed 45 Palestinians, 17 of them civilians, and wounded some 500 others since Wednesday afternoon, when Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense against the coastal enclave.
Hamas security officials told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that Israeli war jets carried out 200 airstrikes Friday night and Saturday on various targets, including rocket launchers, security bases and government establishments.
The toughest airstrike was on Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya's headquarters in northwest Gaza City. The main police headquarters of Hamas was also bombarded and badly damaged. Security posts for Hamas government were also targeted all over the Gaza Strip.
Condemning Israeli attacks on Gaza, AL chief Arabi said the peace initiative with Israel has died before it is born, asking Arab countries to search other alternatives.
Arabi's remarks was part of a resolution issued after an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers over Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
According to the resolution, the Arab foreign ministers also decided to review the feasibility of the Middle East Quartet.
The Quartet, which groups the United Nations, Russia, the United States and the European Union, was believed by some AL members as being failed for achieving nothing toward a fair and comprehensive peace in the region.
The pan-Arab body also decided to review the Arab strategy toward the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israel conflict, and to work out new mechanisms to end the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, Arab foreign ministers expressed their dissatisfaction with the United Nations Security Council, which they said had failed to take a decisive action toward the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Earlier on Saturday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on a two-day visit to Cairo, discussing the latest developments in the Israeli belligerence against the Gaza Strip and the international efforts exerted to stop such aggression.
"Turkey will work along with Egypt and the international community to stand by the Palestinian people," Erdogan said.
Morsi reportedly said in a joint press conference with Erdogan that there are indications of a nearing ceasefire between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki attends an emergency meeting on the military operation in the Gaza Strip at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Nov 17, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
However, Israeli Prime Minister's Office denied Saturday night reports that it is sending an official to Cairo to discuss a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, local Ha'aretz website said.
Operation Pillar of Defense, started with the targeted killing of Hamas armed wing chief Ahmed al-Jaabari Wednesday afternoon, entered its fourth day on Saturday.
Israel said that since Wednesday Israeli Air Force struck 950 targets in Gaza, including caches of long-range missiles and headquarters of Hamas and other militant groups, as well as smuggling tunnels. Meanwhile, around 700 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip, from which the Iron Dome batteries near the southern communities intercepted about 211 rockets.
Calling on all UN members to support the Palestinians' bid for upgrading their status at the United Nations, Arab foreign ministers agreed to provide the Gaza Strip with all necessities, including food, medicine and medical equipment.
Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Yoav Mordechai said the operation "is not a matter of a day or two," but will continue with until it achieves its goals of crippling the militants' infrastructure in Gaza and restoring quiet to the southern communities of Israel.