|Arab League meeting in Cairo|
By Joanna Paraszczuk
Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed top Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari and at least six other Palestinians, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.
“President Mohamed Morsi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” Ali said in a statement on television and his Facebook page.
Gazans fire 87 rockets into Israel; Iron Dome intercepts 25
“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.
Later on Wednesday night, a spokesman for Morsi said the president had paid his condolences to the Palestinians killed in the air strikes.
Earlier on Wednesday, Morsi’s political adviser, Mohammad Seif el-Dawla, said the “Israeli aggression on Gaza” was also a blow against Egypt.
Arab foreign ministers will meet on Saturday at the Cairobased Arab League to discuss the Israeli operation, Deputy Arab League chief Ahmed Ben Helli told Reuters.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al- Thani on Wednesday condemned the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip and said they should not go unpunished.
“I condemn [the attacks] in the name of Qatar.... This filthy crime must not pass without punishment,” Hamad told journalists after a meeting in the Saudi capital between Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss Syria. “The UN Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities in preserving peace and security in the world.”
Speaking from Riyadh, Lavrov also called for an end to the attacks and violence in Gaza.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, also condemned the attacks on Gaza, saying they were a sign of “the regime’s brutal nature,” according to Fars News, which is closely affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Mehmanparast did not refer to the Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel but said the “Zionists were continuing with their anti-human crimes.”
Shortly after news of Jabari’s death broke on Wednesday evening, the pro-Hezbollah website al-Intiqad quickly published a eulogy to the terrorist leader, noting that he was “at the top of the Zionist enemy’s wanted list.”
“Jabari was distinguished by his very great abilities that allowed him to lead battalions, despite the considerable threat and the targeting [by Israel] that he suffered as a result,” al-Intiqad said, noting that Jabari had taken extreme caution for his personal security.
The pro-Hezbollah newspaper quoted Jabari as saying, “As long as the Zionists occupy our land, there is nothing for them but death or departure from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Iran’s state-controlled and pro-regime media also rushed to report Jabari’s killing.
Mashregh News, which is closely affiliated with the IRGC, was one of the first Iranian media outlets to report the killing. Mashregh said Jabari had been “martyred” in an “act of Zionist terror.”
Earlier on Wednesday, before the targeted killing, the grand imam of Egypt’s powerful al-Azhar Mosque denounced Israel’s strikes on Gaza, describing them as the “Zionist army’s bombing of innocent civilians,” Egyptian and Saudi news sources reported.
In his statement, Mohamed Ahmed El Tayeb warned the “Zionist entity” against continuing the strikes, which he said were “brutal” and would lead the entire region into a wider conflict.
El Tayeb called on the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to act for the people of Gaza and deter the “usurper entity from exercising its barbarism against defenseless civilians,” according to Saudi Arabia’s Bab news site.
The grand imam said Palestinians in Gaza had a “right to live safely like any other human beings,” but did not mention the rocket attacks against Israel.
El Tayeb is a powerful figure in Egypt and the Sunni world. The mosque is part of al-Azhar University, considered the world’s leading center in Sunni jurisprudence.
The grand imam has previously spoken out against Israel and the Jews, stating last year that he believed Jews “all over the world” were trying to prevent Islamic and Egyptian unity.
In a 2011 Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo, in which members of the group and Palestinian guest speakers called for Muslims to wage jihad against Israel, El Tayeb told the crowd that Muslims should not allow “Zionists” to “Judaize Jerusalem,” and said the al-Aksa Mosque was “under an offensive from the Jews.”
Also on Wednesday morning, the secretary-general of the OIC issued a strongly worded statement condemning Israel’s airstrikes against the Gaza Strip. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the “ongoing military action” against Gaza was a “heinous crime” by the “occupation authorities” and a flagrant violation of international conventions.
The Israeli strikes threatened regional security, Ihsanoglu said, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Israel launched air strikes against ammunition depots and missile launch sites in response to an intensified rocket barrage from Hamas and Palestinian terror groups.
On Tuesday, Israel’s permanent representative in the UN, Ron Prosor, said in a strongly worded letter to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon that Palestinian terror organizations had launched more than 150 rockets over the past few days into Israeli territory.
In his statement, Ihsanoglu did not refer or allude to the Palestinian rocket attacks.
Earlier this week, the OIC secretary-general told Saudi Arabia’s Al-Youm newspaper that Muslim efforts to “save the occupied city of al-Quds [Jerusalem] are inadequate.”
The OIC, which is the largest international organization outside the UN, has 57 member states and aims to be the collective voice of the Muslim world.
Ahead of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers session in Djibouti on Thursday, Ihsanoglu said the organization was “sparing no effort to defend the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem,” and was focusing on helping Palestinians in Jerusalem to remain in the city and ensuring a decent life for them.