Iran, Jordan demand halt of Israel’s Gaza assault

Jordan "condemns the military aggression that Israel has launched in the Gaza Strip"

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Jordan, one of just two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, demanded Wednesday an immediate halt to deadly Israeli air raids against the Gaza Strip.

Government spokesman Mohammad Momani said that the raids that killed more than 20 Palestinians in purported response to rocket fire that has killed no one in Israel were "barbaric".

Jordan "condemns the military aggression that Israel has launched in the Gaza Strip" and calls for "its immediate halt", said Momani.

He said the "barbaric aggression" had "negative repercussions on the Gaza Strip and the whole region".

"Jordan demands Israel stop all forms of escalation. The international community should actively intervene to stop the Israeli aggression," Momani said.

"The Israeli actions violate international laws and obstruct peace efforts in the region," added the minister, whose country has a 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, calling on the West to urge the Jewish state to prevent a "human catastrophe".

The remarks by Iran, traditional ally of Palestinian militant group Hamas, came after Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Gaza as part of a major campaign to halt rocket fire from the enclave.

"We are, unfortunately, witnessing the escalation of savage aggression by the Zionists in recent days against the innocent and defenceless people of Palestine," ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in her weekly briefing with reporters.

Iran calls on "Western countries and supporters of the Zionist regime (to) take firm a stance and prevent a human catastrophe and stop the attacks," she added, while questioning an "unrealistic excuse of the kidnapping of three Zionist settlers".

The Israeli air force bombed 160 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight as it pressed a wide-scale campaign to stop Palestinian rocket fire, according to an army official.

The fire escalated early Wednesday, with army radio reporting that at least five rockets or mortar rounds from Gaza were intercepted over the Tel Aviv region by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said it was responsible.

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