Gaza Truce During Egyptian PM’s Visit Short-Lived; Israel Starts Drafting 16,000 Reservists

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Hisham Kandil
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Kandil look at a patient, who was injured during an Israeli strike, during their visit to a hospital in Gaza City

 

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil arrived in Gaza Friday to show solidarity with the Palestinians after Israel pounded more than 130 targets overnight, escalating the two days of fighting between the Hamas militants and the Israeli military.

"The Palestinian people sacrifice martyrs everyday in the fight for its rights," Kandil said at a press conference jointly held with senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh outside Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, news agencies reported. "Egypt will stand by the Palestinian people until they attain all their legitimate rights."

Kandil urged Israel to abide by its commitments, adding, "Egypt is acting in multiple arenas to put an end to the aggression, bring peace and establish a Palestinian state."

Israel had agreed to a ceasefire on condition that Hamas too held its fire during Kandil’s three-hour visit. However, the brief ceasefire ended soon after he had left, when rockets were fired from Gaza targeting several sites in southern Israel which met with reciprocal attacks from the Israeli air force.

Around 85 missiles exploded within 45 minutes in Gaza City in the early hours of Friday. Israeli military said it was targeting underground rocket-launching sites, the Associated Press reported.

Friday’s fighting killed two people, including a child, raising the Palestinian death toll since Wednesday to 21, Reuters reported citing a medic in Gaza. Three Israelis have also been killed since Wednesday.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Thursday condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza saying it would only result in instability in the region.

"We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression," Morsi said in a televised address in Cairo. "The Israelis must realize that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region."

Israel killed a Palestinian military leader Wednesday that triggered intense fighting and feverish rumors of an Israeli invasion of Palestinian territory.

Signaling a further worsening of the situation, Israel had started drafting 16,000 reserve troops, the military said Friday, Reuters reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the ministry's legal counsel to seek government authorization to draft reserve forces for possible activity in Gaza. The army said as many as 30,000 troops could be drafted.

Israel reportedly is planning to supplement its largely aerial assault on Palestinian targets with ground incursion. However, there haven’t been any reports of ground offensive in Gaza.

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