Abbas calls meeting with Palestinian party leaders

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The head of the Palestinian National Authority on Monday called for a meeting with all Palestinian political parties to discuss the situation in Gaza, the Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
GAZA/TEL AVIV, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Palestinian National Authority on Monday called for a meeting with all Palestinian political parties to discuss the situation in Gaza, the Palestinian news agency Wafa said.

The Gaza Strip has been hit by the worst violence in recent years with over 300 Palestinians dead and around 1,400 wounded after Israel launched airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave three days ago. Israel said the airstrikes were in response to militant rocket attacks on Israeli border towns from the Gaza Strip after a six-month ceasefire ended 10 days ago.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has requested a meeting with all of the factions, including the militant Islamic Hamas movement, which has controlled Gaza since June 2007, to try and renew a ceasefire agreement with Israel.

"Now we have to be all united and be one hand in order to stop the aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip," China's Xinhua cited Abbas as saying at an emergency meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Monday.

Abbas expressed hope that a truce would be reached or renewed "and calm would return back to our people in the Gaza Strip in order to avoid more suffering that grows up as the blockade is strengthened." Earlier Abbas made the decision to halt peaceful dialogue with Israel because of the violence in Gaza.

Tel Aviv has mobilized up to 6,500 reservists and deployed tanks along Gaza's border in preparation for a possible ground offensive on the coastal enclave of 1.5 million Palestinians.

So far Israel has only launched artillery and aerial bombardments on the enclave.

The International Red Cross said hospitals in the Gaza Strip had been overwhelmed and were unable to cope with the huge influx of wounded, many of whom are women and children.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has called for an immediate halt to all military actions in Gaza. The non-binding statement adopted by the 15-member body calls for an immediate halt to all violence and urges the parties to immediately stop all military activity.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged on Sunday an end to military actions in the Gaza Strip and stressed the need to allow humanitarian aid into the enclave.

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