Yahoo! News (Link) AFP (December 27, 2008)
Egypt condemned as "murder," Israel's Saturday air raids on Gaza that killed at least 205 Palestinians, opening its Rafah border crossing with the territory to allow the wounded through for treatment. "We call for an immediate end to Israeli military operations. We cannot allow these attacks to continue. We cannot permit the murder of Palestinians," Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on state television.
Egypt, the only Arab state along with Jordan to have signed a peace deal with Israel, summoned Ambassador Shalom Cohen to demand an end to the bombardment that has also left hundreds wounded. "We summoned the Israeli ambassador and we said we refuse this aggression and we demanded an immediate end to it," foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP. Abul Gheit telephoned his US, Russian and French counterparts -- Condoleezza Rice, Sergei Lavrov and Bernard Kouchner -- and urged them to call for an end to Israeli operations that should be "reciprocal" with Hamas, a statement said.
Amr Mussa, secretary general of the Cairo-based Arab League, called an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers "to discuss the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip." League ambassadors will meet on Saturday, and Arab foreign ministers on Sunday, the league said. Mussa also asked Libya, as a member of the United National Security Council, to organise an emergency meeting on the subject of the Israeli raids.
Qatar, meanwhile, called for a summit of Arab League leaders in the coming days to "discuss the Israeli aggressions and savage raids on the Gaza Strip and to adopt an Arab position" on the matter, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Egypt has reinforced security on its frontier with Gaza by deploying 500 anti-riot police, a security official told AFP. On Friday, Egypt had already stepped up border security in case Gazans broke through the boundary fence and entered Egypt in their thousands, as happened in January when activists opened breaches with explosives. Egypt mediated a six-months truce between Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement which controls the Gaza strip. Since the truce expired on December 19, Egypt has been trying to broker its renewal and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Cairo for talks on Thursday. While in Egypt, Livni vowed to strike back at Hamas as a sharp escalation of violence in Gaza dashed hopes of a new truce.
The spiritual guide of Egypt's Islamist opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned Saturday's raids as "a crime without comparison in history," adding that "the world looks on and does nothing." Countering criticism that Egypt might have told Hamas Israel was not about to launch an attack, Abul Gheit said "Israel told the international community and its officials told the whole world of their intentions."
Abul Gheit accused Hamas of having aborted Egyptian efforts to avoid an Israeli attack on Gaza. On Thursday, he had said the government was preparing to invite Hamas and its secular rival Fatah, which rules the occupied West Bank, to Cairo to resume dialogue. Hamas boycotted reconciliation talks that were due to take place in Cairo in November, to protest the "political detentions" of some of its members in the West Bank by Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.