Israel has attacked hundreds of targets in the coastal strip using aircraft, warships and artillery
A Palestinian man inspects a damaged building following overnight Israeli air strikes on the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and 10 Arab foreign ministers will cross into Gaza from Egypt to show support for the Palestinians, the league's deputy secretary general has told AFP. © Said Khatib - AFP
Israel has attacked hundreds of targets in the coastal strip using aircraft, warships and artillery
Last updated: November 20, 2012

Arab foreign ministers to enter Gaza in solidarity

The Arab League head said the world should focus on ending Israeli occupation instead of seeking a truce in Gaza, on a solidarity mission to the war-torn strip on Tuesday.

"The real problem is not a truce," Nabil al-Arabi told reporters as he led a top-level delegation of 10 Arab ministers on a visit to the territory where Israel has been pressing an intensive aerial campaign which did not let up for the duration of their visit.

"The real problem that the Arab and Islamic countries and all friendly countries in the world must focus on is ending the occupation," the Arab League secretary general said.

The visit came as intense diplomatic efforts edged the two sides closer toward a truce that some militant sources said could be announced in Cairo later on Tuesday.

But Arabi said that nations were losing focus as they focused on ways to avoid escalating violence that has claimed the lives of more than 130 Palestinians and seen hundreds of rockets rain down on southern Israel.

The delegation also visited Gaza City's Shifa hospital and met the survivors of a family which lost eight members during a single deadly missile strike on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had raised hopes that the violence could draw to a close later on Tuesday.

"The farce of the Israeli aggression will end today, Tuesday, and the efforts to reach a ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis will produce positive results within a few hours," he was quoted as saying by the official Egyptian MENA news agency.

Sources from the armed Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad both told AFP that a truce would be announced later on Tuesday at a joint press conference with Palestinian factions and Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

But an Egyptian source close to the negotiations was more cautious. "Up to this point there is no final decision," he told AFP by phone from Cairo.

An Israeli diplomatic source also refused to confirm an agreement was in the bag.

"We are working very hard using our diplomatic channels. We are working continuously. But I cannot give you an estimated time of arrival," at an agreement, he said.

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