GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday called on Egypt and the Arab world to stop Israel's operation on the Gaza Strip.
"We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt ... and the new Egyptian presidency, to suppress this barbaric campaign in defense of Gaza and its people," Haniyeh said in a statement.
He called on the Arab League to hold an emergency summit to stop the escalation. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the Arab League chief to convene an urgent meeting.
Israel launched a major offensive Wednesday, killing Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Jaabari and at least five others in a series of airstrikes and shelling and threatening a ground invasion of the enclave.
Senior Hamas leader Ahmad Bahar said Israel had crossed a "red line" and declared war on the Gaza Strip and its people by assassinating al-Jaabari, who he applauded for improving the military capabilities of the Palestinian resistance.
The deputy PLC speaker urged Egypt to intervene. "Egypt must stick to its nationalistic responsibilities towards the Palestinian brothers whose blood, souls and properties are being targeted by the criminal Zionists."
Bahar said the region had changed since Israel's last major operation in Gaza in Dec. 2008. Arab revolutions created a new political reality and Gaza no longer stands alone against Israeli aggression, he said. Egypt condemns Israeli strikes
Egypt's foreign ministry on Wednesday called for an immediate halt to Israeli attacks, which broke an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that took hold a day earlier.
"Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned the series of air strikes that Israel is currently conducting against Gaza Strip and which led to the killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari," the ministry said in a statement.
"He called on Israel to stop its strikes on Gaza Strip immediately," the statement said adding that any further esclation from Israel "could have negative repercussions on the security and stabiltiy of the region".
The statement said the Egyptian minister considered the "Israeli escalation to be very dangerous".
Egypt's new Islamist President Mohammad Mursi who hails from the FJP, the political wing of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group, has since his election last June strengthened the relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the political front of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.
The FJP issued a similar condemnation statement.
"The Freedom and Justice Party stresses its full condemnation to the Israeli assignation operation against Al-Qassam leader Ahmad Al-Jaabari," a FJP statement said calling for a quick Arab and international reaction.
"Israel's return to the policy of assignation of leaders from the Palestinian struggle groups shows that the Israeli occupation wants to drag the region towards instability," the FJP statement added.
"But the occupying state has to understand that the changes the Arab region, and especially Egypt, have witnessed will not permit that the Palestinian people be put under the hold of the Israeli offense in the same way as the past."Reuters contributed to this report.