Egypt criticizes Israeli bombing in Gaza

April 11, 2006 - 0:0
CAIRO (Reuters) -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Sunday recent Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip were excessive and disproportionate, and would lead to further violence.

The Israeli army fired artillery shells into the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing a civilian and wounding 15 civilians and policemen, Palestinian security sources said.

Israeli Army officials have said the strikes were on locations on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, a town in the northern Gaza Strip, used by militants to fire rockets into Israel.

Israeli air strikes and artillery barrages have killed 15 Palestinians, mainly militants since Friday.

"Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed his disapproval of Israel's continued bombing of the Gaza Strip," reported Egypt's official MENA new agency.

"This bombing, which Israel has justified by the firing of Qassam rockets by some Palestinian elements, is an excessive and disproportionate use of force," it quoted him as saying. MENA added: "The foreign minister indicated that the escalating Israeli military campaign ... will not lead to the realization of Israeli security but will result in increased violence."

Egypt, a key regional U.S. ally, was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel and maintains contacts with Palestinian and Israel officials in the hope of reviving stalled peace talks.

A Palestinian minister visiting Cairo on Sunday asked the Arab League to urge Arab states to pay financial aid pledged to the cash-strapped Hamas-led Palestinian government, MENA reported.

Telecoms Minister Jamal al-Khudary asked Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to urge Arab states to honor a commitment made at a recent Arab summit in Khartoum to give the Palestinians some $50 million a month.

The United States and the European Commission, who want Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and commit to peace talks, have suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority.