Israeli troops kill Palestinian stone-thrower

Arab League calls for international protection for civilians in Gaza

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Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes with stone-throwers near the southern West Bank city of Hebron early on Monday, both sides said, as tensions mounted over Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

Israeli military sources said soldiers shot Badarin after he and others threw stones and firebombs at Israeli vehicles passing nearby.

An army spokeswoman said earlier that troops in the West Bank had arrested 23 Palestinians overnight as part of their ongoing campaign to hunt down those who kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers last month. After a Palestinian teenager was killed by Jewish extremists on July 2 in an apparent revenge killing.

Palestinian security sources said the soldiers had arrested 13 people from the Hebron area overnight, three of them Hamas parliamentarians: Nayef Rajub from Dura, Mohammed Jheisha from Idhna and Mohammed Akel from Dhahiriya.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club said in a statement Israel had detained 11 Hamas parliamentarians overnight, raising the number of Palestinian lawmakers being held by Israel to 34, 23 of whom had been arrested since mid-June.

The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers triggered a chain of events which has led to the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, which has claimed more than 170 Palestinian lives in just six days.

Calls for ceasefire

The Arab League has called on the international community to end Israeli air strikes on Gaza and to protect Palestinians, ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting later Monday.

The call, in a report to be submitted to the ministerial meeting, comes as Israel pressed its campaign of punishing raids on Gaza into a seventh day on Monday, and the Palestinian death toll rose to 172, with another 1,230 wounded.

The Arab League “affirmed the necessity of urgent steps for an immediate end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and providing protection for the Palestinians,” the report said.

Israeli “air strikes on Gaza have become a matter that cannot be met with silence any more”, it said.

The pan-Arab organisation “demands that the international community intervene through its legal and humanitarian institutions to protect the Palestinian people.”

The European Union said on Monday it was in touch with “parties in the region” to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The EU was following events in Gaza, where health officials said more than 166 Palestinians have been killed during a week-long Israeli offensive, with great concern.

“We call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint, to avoid casualties and to return calm. We are in contact with parties in the region to do their utmost to achieve an immediate ceasefire,” EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters, without giving details.

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