|The Arab League called Israel's actions 'war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity' [AFP]|
The Arab League, meeting in Cairo, Egypt, has held a special session to condemn Israel's deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip and other raids in the West Bank.
The Israeli operation came as rocket attacks from the Hamas-governed enclave, which normally strike the Negev desert town of Sderot, began to reach as far north as the coastal city of Ashkelon, 17km from Gaza.
Below is the translated statement issued by Arab leaders after Tuesday's session:
[The Arab League] extremely condemns the brutal crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories and which led to killing and injuring many civilians and caused massive destruction in Gaza's infrastructure and huge losses to the Palestinians' daily life.
This comes in an ongoing violation of all international and humanitarian laws and Geneva accords on the treatment of civilian residents under occupation. This also comes as Israeli leaders threaten to commit a holocaust against the Palestinian people. The [Arab League] council recognises these Israeli crimes as war crimes and crimes against humanity, to be dealt with according to necessary measures.
Under the seriousness of this situation and the UN security council's inability - despite the continuity of the Israeli aggression - to bear its responsibilities, by looking into the brutal Israeli crimes and the suffering of the Palestinian people that includes siege, starvation and collective punishment, which violates the international law in an unprecedented serious way, the [Arab league] council has fully assessed the situation following the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and Israel's non-reciprocation with peace efforts and agreements which led to the convention of the Annapolis conference and its outcome, particularly on the peace process in the context of resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, a complete halt to settlement activities in the occupied territories including Jerusalem, and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2008.
The [Arab League] council rejects the proposed negative amendment to the draft Arab resolution proposed to the UN Security Council, calling on the council to bear its responsibilities on this matter and take the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian people.
The [Arab League] council has also expressed its stance that the Arab peace initiative should not remain existent under the lack of a real Israeli reciprocation towards its suggestion and implementation and that of other main international references which have also failed to carry out the required move.
The [Arab league] council has recalled its decision ... which has called for lifting the siege imposed on Gaza. It affirms it would not tolerate any policy to starve the Palestinian people or deprive them from their basic needs.
In light of these extremely serious developments, the [Arab League] council affirms calling for the proper Arab rights. It will submit to the upcoming Arab summit an assessment of and proposals to this situation in addition to a required revision of the path adopted by Arab states and their stances towards efforts to revive the peace process in light of the current developments and the consequences of this operation.
The [Arab League] council calls on Palestinian sides to speed up unifying their ranks and achieving national unity in the face of the challenges confronting the Palestinian people and to respond to the Arab efforts in this matter.
Source: Al Jazeera