Egypt struggles to remain calm after hostilities in Gaza broke out

JERUSALEM (AP)-Egyptian officials on Sunday urged Israeli and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to control hostilities and insist on a ceasefire agreement since the May War.

The Egyptian effort came a day after Hamas militants launched rockets into the Mediterranean near central Israel, prompting Israel to carry out air strikes on radical positions in Gaza earlier on Sunday. There were no reports of casualties.

The Israeli military stated that in response to Saturday’s rocket attack, it attacked Hamas’ “rocket manufacturing bases and military outposts” in the Gaza Strip overnight.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the beginning of the government’s weekly cabinet meeting: “Whoever directs missiles at Israel will bear the responsibility.”

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants shot and killed an Israeli contractor working on a border fence. Israel responded by opening fire on militant positions. This was the first exchange of fire in months.

An Egyptian diplomat who understands the ongoing efforts said that Egyptian officials called on Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza to stop what they regarded as “provocative” actions by Israel, and demanded that Israel speed up the arrangements for the ceasefire agreement reached. The diplomat requested anonymity because they did not have the right to discuss the matter with the media.

“Neither side wants a full-scale war,” the diplomat said. “They just want guarantees and on-site steps.”

The ceasefire facilitated by Egypt and other mediators has been fragile, but since the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel in May, the ceasefire has basically been maintained. However, the militant group stated that after the Islamic movement seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007, Israel did not take serious measures to ease the blockade of Gaza imposed on Egypt.

At the same time, the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group threatened to take military action against Israel if a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike died. Hisham Abu Hawash, a member of the Islamic Jihad Group who was administratively detained by Israel, has gone on a hunger strike for more than 130 days.

Israel’s controversial administrative detention policy allows suspects to be detained indefinitely without charge. Israel stated that this approach is necessary to detain dangerous suspects without disclosing key information that may reveal the source of the information. Palestinians and rights groups condemned the policy as a violation of due process.


Magdi reports from Cairo.

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