January 9, 2009 / 11:42 AM / 10 years ago

Libya's Gaddafi wants Arabs to join in Gaza war

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has accused Arab leaders of a “cowardly” response to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, urged them to let their citizens join Palestinian fighters as volunteers, state media said Friday.

“I call on Arabs to open the door for volunteers to fight alongside the Palestinians,” said Gaddafi in a one-line statement carried by state news agency Jana.

The maverick Libyan leader did not say whether he would specifically ask Egypt, the only country with a border with Gaza, to let would-be Arab combatants into the Palestinian enclave, which is under an Israeli-led blockade.

A day after Israeli offensive on Gaza began on December 27, Gaddafi assailed Arab leaders for failing to back the Palestinians living there beyond offering humanitarian aid or discussing a possible Arab summit.

Israel says its 14-day-old offensive on Gaza, where Islamist Hamas leaders say more than 750 Palestinians have been killed, is designed to stop cross-border attacks by Hamas.

Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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