Tunisia's top diplomat slams Israel on Gaza visit

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - The world must stop Israel's "blatant aggression" in Gaza, Tunisia's foreign minister said in Gaza City on Saturday, as Israel's military continued to pounded the strip.

Mr Rafik Abdessalem, the second top-level diplomat to travel to Gaza in as many days, made the remarks as Hamas was locked in an escalating confrontation with the Israeli military.

"Our message to the international community is that this blatant Israeli aggression on our people in Gaza must stop," he told AFP as he visited the ruins of the Hamas government headquarters flattened overnight in an Israeli strike.

His trip came a day after Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil paid a solidarity visit to Gaza and had his photograph taken in front of the government building with his Hamas counterpart, Mr Ismail Haniya.

As the Tunisian minister examined the devastation, another loud explosion could be heard nearby, an AFP correspondent said.

"This aggression is no longer acceptable or legal by any standards," he said, calling on the Arab League to act to halt the aggression later on Saturday.

Mr Abdessalem arrived in Gaza just before 0800 GMT (4pm, Singapore time), crossing through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as Israel staged fresh raids on the city, killing five Palestinians.

Officials earlier said he would meet Mr Haniya, but it was not clear when or where, with the Hamas premier widely believed to be in hiding.