Egypt calls on Israel, Palestinians not to let situation in Gaza escalate

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hussam Zakkai on Friday called on Israel and the Palestinians not to let the situation in the Gaza Strip deteriorate into full-blown conflict, as it would negatively affect civilians there. "It's up to Israel to be flexible about [opening Gaza] border crossings," he said. "It's up to the Palestinian factions not to escalate their operations, so Gazans won't have to pay the price of confrontations." The spokesperson said that until the last minute, Egypt had hoped that Israel and the Palestinians would announce their willingness to extend the cease-fire agreement. "At this point, no one as requested that we extend the truce," he said, adding that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 had not freed Gaza from occupation.