The Palestinian leadership headed by Yasser Arafat appealed to the international community for protection on Monday after intense Israeli punitive raids on cities in the Gaza Strip.
"The leadership asks the Arab and Islamic world, their nations and people, the United Nations, the two sponsors of the peace process (the United States and Russia), the European Union, Japan and China and the non-aligned movement to immediately intervene to ensure protection for our people and stop these hideous aggressions against them," said a statement issued by the leadership.
It was issued as Israel struck Palestinian targets in retaliation for a bomb attack on a bus full of Jewish settler children in the Gaza Strip that killed two people.
"The leadership holds the Israeli government and the Israeli army totally responsible for these criminal aggressions against our people and organizations and infrastructure," the statement added.
After the two-hour raids, Arafat held meetings with UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and EU envoy Miguel Moratinos in Gaza and held talks with foreign diplomats, Palestinian officials said.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat earlier described Israel's air raids as "state terror."
"We are seeing now and watching state terror. Israel is unleashing its military might against a people that doesn't have an army or navy or tanks" Erakat told CNN television.
"We urge the international community which has been watching our towns, villages and refugee camps bombarded by Israeli tanks night after night to really decide on dispatching international forces for international protection for Palestinians in accordance with the Geneva Convention," he said.
Arafat's top aide Nabil Abu Rudeina demanded that Israel halt the raids, which he said risked creating a situation "no-one can control."
"We hold Israel responsible for this grave escalation. Israel must stop these attacks immediately in order that the situation does not deteriorate in to a situation that no-one can control," Abu Rudeina told AFP -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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