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Egypt recalls ambassador from Israel over Gaza attacks

Nov. 14, 2012 9:24 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 15, 2012 4:13 A.M.)
CAIRO (Reuters) -- Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed Hamas's top military commander and at least five other Palestinians, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.

"President Mohamed Mursi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed," Yasser Ali said in a statement on television and on his Facebook website.

"On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council ... and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault," the statement added.

Earlier Wednesday, Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh 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.

Deputy PLC speaker Ahmad Bahar also 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'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".

Reuters contributed to this report.
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