Egypt PM's visit to Gaza fails to cease rockets

Kandil denounces IAF strikes in public appearance with Haniyeh; Palestinians: Visit begins process to explore truce possibility.

November 16, 2012 12:42
2 minute read.
Egyptian PM Kandil and Haniyeh in Gaza

Egyptian PM Kandil and Haniyeh in Gaza 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Dozens of rockets rained down on the South on Friday morning as Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visited the territory.

Israel had agreed to cease strikes on terror targets in the Strip during Kandil's approximately three hour visit.

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Hamas sources said that the IDF responded to the rocket fire with an airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip in which two Palestinians were killed. In addition, a Hamas source said that the IAF attacked the house of Hamas's commander for southern Gaza.

The IDF denied that it had carried out strikes in Gaza during Kandil's visit.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account that, "Hamas does not respect the Egyptian PM's visit to Gaza and violates the temporary cease fire that Israel agreed to during the visit."

An IDF spokeswoman said about 50 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza while Kandil was in the Palestinian territory. Israeli broadcasts showed damage from one rocket that struck the southern city of Ashkelon.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who has been in hiding since the targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday, publicly welcomed Kandil on Friday and accompanied him on a visit to a hospital in Gaza.

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Haniyeh addressed crowds, vowing defiance in the face of the Israeli operation in Gaza and praising Egypt for Kandil's visit, which he called "a message to the occupation."

Kandil also addressed the crowd, denouncing Israel's attacks on the Palestinian territory and adding that Cairo would try to secure a ceasefire.

"Egypt will spare no effort ... to stop the aggression and to achieve a truce," Kandil said.

A Palestinian official close to Egypt's mediators told Reuters that Kandil's visit, which included members of Cairo's secret service, "was the beginning of a process to explore the possibility of reaching a truce. It is early to speak of any details or of how things will evolve".

His visit marked the first time an Egyptian prime minster visited the Gaza Strip.

The visit came as some Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip expressed disappointment over Egypt’s “mild response to the Israeli aggression.”

The officials said that they were expecting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to take a tougher stance toward the conflict.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.

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