'Israel nixes Haniyeh assassination at Egypt's request'

Egypt, Palestinian Authority pressure Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Palestinian Resistance Committees not to escalate tensions.

August 27, 2011 14:52
2 minute read.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

ismail haniyeh_311 reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

Israel planned to assassinate Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh following the terrorist attacks near Eilat, but canceled those plans at Egypt's request, Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram quoted an "informed Palestinian source" as saying Saturday.

According to the report, Egypt, with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority, also pressured the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC), groups considered largely responsible for the recent rocket attacks on Israel, not to escalate tensions and to allow the situation to return to a state of calm, despite assassinations of PRC leadership by the IDF in the Gaza Strip.

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On Thursday, an Egyptian official claimed that Cairo had prevented a large-scale IDF military operation from occurring in the Gaza Strip, as Israel reportedly "sought revenge" following the attacks in Eilat which left eight people dead, Ma'an quoted Egypt's envoy to the Palestinian territories, Yasser Othman, as saying.

Othman claimed that Egypt told Israel that it would not allow an operation to take place and Israel heeded the warning because of fear of the Egyptian people's reaction to such an operation.

Egyptians have been protesting outside of the Israeli embassy in Cairo and the Israeli consulate in Alexandria for a number of weeks, following the deaths of five Egyptian security forces during an exchange of fire between the IDF and gunmen who carried out the Eilat attacks.

Relations between Egypt and Israel became tense following those attacks, with reports - though later refuted - that Egypt had recalled its envoy from Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem refusing to issue an official apology for the deaths of the soldiers before conducting an investigation of the incident. Some protesters in Egypt have been demanding Cairo nix the Camp David Accords, which ended decades-long hostilities between Egypt and Israel, and cancel diplomatic relations with Israel.

With Egyptian president elections approaching - the date is set for Novemeber of this year - the issue of Egyptian-Israeli relations will likely become a tool for candidates, given the popularity of the matter amongst Egyptians.

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