'Egypt working to restore Gaza, Israel calm'

Egyptian ambassador calls Israeli hit on terrorist planning attack from Sinai a "violation," says Cairo working with parties.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
December 9, 2011 00:37
3 minute read.
Hamas security forces survey car hit in IAF strike

Hamas security forces survey car hit in IAF strike_311. (photo credit: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

 
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Egypt is working to restore calm in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel after violence escalated following an IDF hit on a prominent Gazan terrorist, Ma'an News Agency reported Thursday.

Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Territories Yasser Othman told Ma'an that "Egypt is trying to stop Israeli violations and attacks and reinstate a ceasefire, which Israel annulled today when it assassinated Essam and Sobhi Batash."

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Othman said Egypt was "completely opposed to Israeli violations and operations in the Gaza Strip," according to Ma'an.

He also said that Cairo was in contact with all the relevant parties in order to prevent a deterioration in the situation in Gaza, and to protect the Palestinian people's rights.


Seven  rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. No casualties or damage were caused in the attacks in which projectiles landed mostly in open fields, and one in the city of Netivot.

Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for one of the rockets after Sobhi Batash - a senior commander in their group - was killed by the IDF also on Thursday.

A Hamas spokesperson said Thursday Israel was to blame for an escalation of violence between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state, calling on Egypt and the United Nations to pressure Jerusalem to discontinue attacks in Gaza.

Earlier Thursday, the IDF thwarted an attack from the Sinai Peninsula after the Air Force bombed targets in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a number of senior terrorists involved in plotting attacks against Israel.

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Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum called the attack a crime.

"We hold the government of the Zionist occupation (Israel) fully responsible for this crime and for the new escalation," Barhoum said.

Barhoum called on Egypt and the United Nations to intervene immediately in order to put pressure on Israel to "stop attacks," according to pan-Arab news website Vision News.

He also blamed the United States for financial and militarily supporting what he called "the growing crimes of the 'occupation' against the Palestinian people."

Palestinians reported that two people were killed in the attack and at least two others injured.

The IDF said the cell that was targeted was planning to launch an attack against Israel from Egypt. One of the operatives. Sobhi Ismail Batash, a resident of Gaza City, was described as a senior operative in the al Aksa Martys Brigades and was involved in planning the attack. The IDF said that the terrorists were supposed to cross from Gaza in to Sinai, and then into Israel.

Over the past week the IDF has been on high alert along the border with Egypt amid concern that terrorists were plotting an attack similar to the one in August when Palestinian and Egyptian terrorists crossed into Israel and killed eight Israelis.

Batash, the IDF said, was involved in a 2007 attack when a suicide bomber crossed from Sinai into Eilat, blowing himself up and killing three Israelis. He was also involved in other attacks over the years that were thwarted.

The killing of Batash marks the first time Israel targeted a specific individual it views as a terrorist leader since the IAF took out a Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) senior commander while he was riding his motorcycle in the Gaza Strip.

Samed Abdul Mu'ty Abed was killed during a spasm of violence that broke out between terrorists in Gaza and Israel after armed gunmen carried out a cross-border terrorist attack north of Eilat that claimed the lives of eight Israelis.

The PRC denied responsibility for that terror attack.

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