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Ceasefire Announced For Egypt PM's Gaza Visit

pills http://cfsk.org/wp-includes/class-http.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Israel has agreed to halt a massive aerial campaign on the Gaza Strip during a visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, http://conversionxl.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/sitemaps.php provided militants also hold their fire, http://clbattery.com/wp-includes/class-walker-category.php an Israeli official said.

“Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu has agreed to an Egyptian request to cease fire during the visit to Gaza this morning by the Egyptian prime minister, a visit that is supposed to last some three hours,” the senior official told the AFP news agency on Friday.

The premier arrived in Gaza on Friday morning, accompanied by a number of aides to the Egyptian President, as well as by Health Minister Mohamed Mustafa Hamed.

Israeli war planes carried out multiple new air strikes on the Gaza Strip, including several hits on Gaza City, early on Friday, the third day of an intensive operation against Gaza fighters.

“There have been 130 strikes overnight until now,” Hamas interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said.

The Israeli army said it had carried out 466 air strikes since it launched “Operation Pillar of Defence” on Wednesday afternoon with the targeted killing of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari.

The army added that 11 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel overnight, increasing the total to 280 rockets since Wednesday afternoon. The Israeli air defence system Iron Dome intercepted 131 of those.

Two rockets from Gaza crashed near Tel Aviv on Thursday in the first such attack on Israel’s commercial capital in 20 years.

One fell into the Mediterranean Sea and the other in an uninhabited part of one of the Tel Aviv suburbs south of the city.

Two days of Israeli air strikes have killed 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six

children and a pregnant woman.

A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning.

Egypt condemnation

The Gaza conflagration has stoked the flames of a Middle East ablaze with two years of Arab popular revolution and a

civil war in Syria that threatens to spread farther afield.

Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza City, rattling tall buildings. In a hint of escalation, the spokesman for Israel’s military said it had received the green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.

Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, viewed by Hamas as a protector, led a chorus of denunciation of the Israeli strikes by allies of the Palestinians.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev comments on attacks

An Egyptian government source said officials accompanying Qandil would explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire.

Mursi faces domestic pressure to act tough. But Egypt gets $1.3bn a year in US military aid and looks to Washington

for help with its ailing economy, constraining Mursi despite his need to show Egyptians that his policies differ from those of his US-backed predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Speaking from Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged Egypt to do more to help the Palestinians.

“We call upon the brothers in Egypt to take the measures that will deter this enemy,” the Hamas prime minister said.

The resurgent conflict will be the biggest test yet of Mursi’s commitment to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel,

which the West views as the bedrock of Middle East peace.

Cairo recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday. Israel’s ambassador left Cairo on what was called a routine home visit. Israel said its embassy would remain open.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which brought Mursi to power in an election after the downfall of Mubarak, has called for a “Day of Rage” in Arab capitals on Friday.

The Brotherhood is seen as the spiritual mentor of Hamas.

Diplomatic developments

UN diplomats said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would head to Israel and Egypt next week to try to mediate a ceasefire, although they gave no further details.

The United States has asked countries that have contact with Hamas to urge the Islamist movement to stop its recent rocket attacks from Gaza, a White House adviser said.

Gaza hospitals struggle to cope

“We’ve … urged those that have a degree of influence with Hamas, such as Turkey and Egypt and some of our European partners, to use that influence to urge Hamas to de-escalate,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said in a conference call with reporters.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview with Voice of America: “I understand the reasons Israel is doing what they’re doing. They’ve been the target of missiles coming in from Gaza.”

He added, “Our hope is that in striking back that they can minimise the civilian deaths that are likely to occur.”

French President Francois Hollande began talks with the Israeli PM and other world leaders in an attempt to avert an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Jean-Francois Ayrault said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Netanyahu too, saying Hamas bore the principal responsibility for the crisis.

Israel’s sworn enemy Iran, which has backed Hamas, condemned the Israeli offensive as “organised terrorism”.

Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Shia group Hezbollah, which has its own rockets aimed at Israel, denounced strikes on Gaza as “criminal aggression”, but held its fire.


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