Arab League Chief Amr Mussa said Sunday that the organization would ask the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, which Israel has pounded with air strikes in response to rocket fire.
Condemning what it called Israel's "brutal" aggression in Gaza, a gathering of the Arab League's permanent delegates chaired by Oman called on the UN to convene its Security Council.
The meeting would "consider the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip on an urgent basis to stop its siege and impose a no-fly rule on the Israeli military to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip," the Arab League said in a statement.
An Israeli government official in Jerusalem, who declined to be named, dismissed the call and said the Arab League should first ensure Gaza militants halt attacks on Israel.
"If the Arab League wants a no-fly zone in Gaza is it also talking about ground-to-ground missiles that are fired from Gaza on Israeli cities? About missiles fired at school buses? About mortar shells fired at farms?" the official said.
"If the Arab League wants Israeli military aircraft to stop flying over the Gaza Strip then it should first ensure there is no reason for them to be there to protect Israeli citizens."
The Cairo-based regional body also said Sudan should press a complaint against Israel at the Security Council over what Sudan has called a missile attack that killed two people.
Israel has declined to comment on Khartoum's accusation it launched the strike near Port Sudan airport on Tuesday night.
"The council of Arab League calls on the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the apparatus of African Union ... to present a complaint against Israel in front of the Security Council and the U.N.'s general assembly," the League said.
Ankara condemns Israeli strikes
Turkey on Sunday denounced what it termed Israel's "excessive and disproportionate" strikes on Gaza in retaliation for a Palestinian antitank missile attack last week.
"We strongly condemn the excessive and disproportionate reprisals of Israel that have injured and killed civilians in Gaza," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement urging Israel to employ good sense and moderation.
"The region cannot be allowed to enter into a new spiral of violence," it added.
Israel has launched a string of deadly air strikes across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 18 people and wounding nearly 70, according to Palestinian medical sources, after an antitank missile fired from the coastal enclave hit a school bus in Israel last Thursday, seriously wounding a teenager.
The latest confrontation is the deadliest since an Israeli offensive in December 2008 that claimed the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, once close allies, have sharply deteriorated in recent years amid Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's frequent outbursts against Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the rocket and mortar fire from Gaza continued Sunday afternoon. Four mortar shells were fired at farmers in the Eshkol Regional Council, exploding in open areas. Earlier, a Qassam rocket hit an open area south of Ashkelon. There were no reports of injuries or damage in all incidents.
The Diplomatic-Security Cabinet convened Sunday afternoon and instructed the IDF and security forces "to continue acting against the terrorist elements in order to stop the attacks on Israel and restore calm in southern Israel."
Reuters and AFP contributed to this report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook