Arab League to meet on Israel’s Gaza offensive

CAIRO: Arab League foreign ministers will meet in Cairo later Monday to discuss Israel’s deadly offensive against the Gaza Strip, aimed at countering militant rocket attacks.

With the Israeli campaign in its seventh day, at least 172 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,230 wounded. There have not been any Israeli fatalities.

The Arab League meeting comes amid intense international efforts to end the conflict, and with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas seeking UN intervention.

An Egyptian foreign ministry statement late on Sunday said Monday’s meeting, due to begin at 1900 GMT, “is aimed at finding a solution to stop the shedding of Palestinian civilians’ blood and to formulate a common Arab stance on the issue”.

So far, efforts to broker a ceasefire have been unsuccessful, with Cairo taking a hands-off approach.

Egypt had been key in mediating previous ceasefires, and brokered a truce between Israel and Hamas in November 2012.

However, ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, have worsened since Egypt’s military ousted president Mohamed Morsi last July.

Morsi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an affiliate. After removing Morsi, Egypt’s military-installed authorities designated the Brotherhood a “terrorist” organisation.

World leaders have been in contact with Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to discuss ways of ending the latest conflict.