Israeli F-16 bombers have pounded key targets across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 225 people, local medics say. Most of those killed were policemen, but women and children also died, the Gaza officials said. About 700 others were wounded, as missiles struck security compounds and militant bases, the officials added.
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said the operation "may take some time"- but he pledged to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
EU URGE AN IMMEDIATE HALT
The European Union urged an immediate halt to Israeli air strikes and Palestinian attacks in and around Gaza on Saturday and the lifting of Israeli blockades in the area.
The EU also offered support for Egypt's efforts to mediate between Israel and Hamas.
A statement issued by current EU president France said the 27-nation bloc "condemns the disproportionate use of force" from both sides.
RUSSIA CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACKS
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko condemned the Israeli operation on Gaza, while urging the Hamas movement to stop its retaliatory rocket attacks against Israel. "Russia believes it is necessary to halt immediately the large-scale acts of force against the Gaza Strip, which have already caused considerable victims and suffering amongst the Palestinian population," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Saturday.
EGYPT CONDEMNS ISRAEL
Egypt condemned Israel's Saturday air raids on Gaza. Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with the territory to allow the wounded through for treatment.
"We call for an immediate end to Israeli military operations. We cannot allow these attacks to continue. We cannot permit the murder of Palestinians," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on state television.
TURKEY: “A STRIKE AGAINST THE PEACE”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “Israeli attacks are a strike against the peace” Saturday after massive and deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Mr. Erdogan said he was thinking of calling Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert earlier, but now he decided not to call him due to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Turkish PM Erdogan said the United Nations should do what is necessary on this matter.
Turkey urged Israel to stop its attacks against the Palestinians. "We strongly condemn the death of many Palestinians as result of Israel's attack on Gaza. We are calling for restraint and an immediate halt of the Israeli operation," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in an official statement.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement also called for the lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza in order to secure an uninterrupted flow of the humanitarian aid to the region. “We invite the international community not to remain indifferent to this tragedy and extend a helping hand to Gaza," the statement said.
Turkey has mediated indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Tel Aviv to disengage its military aircraft, which have reportedly pounded the Hamas headquarters. Sarkozy called on both sides to show "restraint", while condemning the "irresponsible provocations which led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force."
"The President of the Republic expresses his profound concern at the escalation of violence in the south of Israel and the Gaza Strip," the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
SAUDI ARABIA: “CONTINUATION OF ISRAELI POLIIES OF OCCUPATION”
Saudi Arabia also blamed Israel and King Abdallah said the attack was a continuation of "Israeli policies of occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians".
IRAN: “CONTINUATION OF ISRAELI CRIMES”
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi condemned strongly Israeli deadly attack on the residential areas of Gaza Strip.
"Although this savagery has got some propagandistic objectives for the forthcoming elections in Israel, it is a proof for the aggressive attitude of the Zionist regime and the painful silence of the international community concerning the siege of the people of Gaza. This needs an urgent action from the UN Security Council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and other Islamic nations and countries to prevent this regime (of Israel) from continuing its crimes " Mr. Qashqavi said.
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