The Palestinians are faced with "a serious humanitarian situation", Arab League representatives said on Sunday and called for aid organisations to provide emergency relief.

The five-day Israeli military onslaught has claimed the lives of more than 65 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians.

After talks at its Cairo headquarters, the League asked Arab representatives in New York "to make an urgent appeal to the General Assembly and/or Security Council to halt Israel's continued war of extermination against the Palestinian people".

They will also call for international protection of the Palestinians "in line with the Geneva accords [on people living under occupation] and international laws".

Permanent representatives of the Arab League also urged the Middle East peace quartet - a grouping of the United Nations, Washington, Moscow and the European Union - "to live up to its responsibility and move rapidly to take a decisive stand to end the Israeli aggression".

The Israeli army launched an operation in northern Gaza late on 29 September that escalated a day later after a Palestinian rocket attack killed two children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.