Egypt was making efforts Sunday to halt a further escalation of violence
in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip which has seen more than 130
rockets fired towards the Jewish State and 17 Palestinians killed in
Israel Air Force strikes since Friday.
"Egypt is in a race against
time in order to halt hostilities as soon as possible to avoid further
escalations," Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian territories Yasser
Othman told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency on Sunday.
was quoted by Ma'an as saying that Cairo was in contact with both the
Israelis and groups within Gaza, in hopes that they can "avoid
The Egyptian official called Israel's
attacks on Gaza "unjustifiable," rejecting claims that Popular
Resistance Committees chief Zuhair Qaisi, killed by the IAF
on Friday, had been targeted because he was planning a terror attack to be launched from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
is "fully under control...This is an attempt by Israel to give
justification for the offensive against Gaza," Othman stated.
Hamas delegation headed by Hamas co-founder and leader Mahmoud Zahar
headed to Cairo on Saturday, the Palestinian News Network reported, as
tensions between Gaza and Israel reached the highest point this year.
Hamas is having trouble
reining in terrorist groups Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian
Resistance Committees, according to the report.
has contacted Egypt the last few days hoping that the country - which
often acts as an intermediary between Israel and the Gaza-ruling
Islamist group - can pressure Israel in order to restore calm, according
to the report.
Egypt's Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr,
denounced IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, calling for the IDF to cease
actions in Gaza immediately.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
on Saturday said Hamas was in contact with its allies in order to
muster enough pressure to stop Israeli raids on terrorists in the Gaza
Strip, according to Al Resalah.
In a press release, the Hamas
prime minister said the priority now was to stop Israeli aggression and
protect Palestinian civilians.