Abbas urges Israel to stop Gaza operation
Operation Protective Edge: Hamas says no ceasefire agreement until Israel stops aerial attacks, lifts Gaza siege; rocket fire, IAF response attacks continue

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday demanded Israel immediately halt its latest offensive against Gaza following a night of terrorist rocket fire on the Israeli south and IAF airstrikes.


Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official from Gaza said no ceasefire would take place until Israel halted its aggressions against the costal enclave.



"Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas demanded Israel immediately stop its escalation and the raids on Gaza," said a statement from his office published shortly after midnight by the official WAFA news agency.


He also asked the international community "to immediately intervene to halt this dangerous escalation which would lead the region to more destruction and instability."


Abbas said the Palestinian leadership was making "intensive and urgent calls" to many Arab leaders in the hope of exerting pressure on Israel to deescalate the situation.


Meanwhile, senior Hamas official Ismail al-Ashkar said the group would not agree to a ceasefire until aggressions against Gaza end.


According to the official, Hamas' demands are an end to air strikes and an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockage on the strip.


The Egyptian authorities have reportedly sent Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza a message from Israel, warning them Israel's will respond
with more force should rocket fire continue, Al Hayat reported.


A senior Palestinian source spoke with the paper and said Egyptian intelligences officials spoke with Musa Abu Marzuq, Hamas' officials in Cairo and Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad Nahla, and told them that "Israel would hit Gaza hard if the two movements refuse to accept calm."


A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad said "our activity will expand in accordance with the expansion of Israeli aggression."


The Islamic Jihad, the second most prominent terror group in Gaza Strip after Hamas, has taken responsibility for at least 60 of the rockets fire at Israel.


The IDF is preparing all options for stamping out militant rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground assault, a senior official said on Tuesday.


"The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Another official had earlier confirmed the army had received instructions "to prepare different military alternatives in order to be ready in case of need."


Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military announced the start of a new campaign called Operation Protective Edge aimed at stamping out rocket fire on southern Israel and destroying Hamas's military infrastructure.


Overnight, the air force and the navy struck more than 50 targets across Gaza, wounding 22 people, medics said, with air strikes continuing into the morning.


An air strike on the central Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian on Tuesday, an emergency services spokesman said.


Witnesses said he was a member of the armed wing of Hamas.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to meet top military officials during the afternoon for a meeting at which he was expected to order a "significant broadening" of the operation and instruct the military to "take off the gloves," a source close to him told army radio.


AFP, Elior Levy, Roi Kais and Reuters contributed to this



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