Egyptian Prime Minister Arrives In The Gaza Strip as Netanyahu and Hamas Cease Fire

Twenty minutes ago Reuters reported that Egypt’s Prime Minister Hesham Kandil has arrived in the Gaza Strip for three-hour-long visit with Hamas.

The visit coincides with the recent AP report, which claims Benjamin Natanyahu has told Egypt he will temporarily postpone Israel’s offensive attacks in the Gaza strip while Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil visits the region.

Now reports coming out of the region have confirmed that both Natanyahu and Hamas have temporarily ceased military offensives.

President Mohammed Morsi sent Kandil to head a high-ranking Egyptian delegation aimed at tending to the immediate needs of Gaza residents, according to a report.

Egyptian demonstrators staged protests in front of the Arab League’s Cairo headquarters demanding that Arab governments move quickly to stop ongoing Israeli aggression.

Morsi’s move to send Kandil is perhaps a response to those protests.

Among the issues Kandil will discuss are Egypt’s shared aims with Hamas-ruled strip.

On Thursday, Morsi — who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood movement that gave birth to Hamas — warned that Egypt would not accept Israel’s “aggression” in the Gaza Strip.

“The Israelis must understand that we do not accept this aggression, which could lead to instability in the region,” Morsi said in televised remarks, as Israeli air forces pummelled Gaza and militants fired rockets back in a deadly tit-for-tat confrontation.

“Shortly before dawn, I called President Obama and we discussed the need to put an end to this aggression and to ensure it does not happen again,” he said.

“We discussed ways to promote calm and to stop these acts… and to achieve peace and security.”

“I explained Egypt’s role, Egypt’s position, that we have relations with the United States and the world, but at the same time we totally reject this aggression.”

New destruction will await Egypt’s new Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, when he arrives Friday morning in Gaza to meet with Palestinian officials.

Israel reported three people were killed, and Palestinians reported 19 deaths, including at least three killed late Thursday. Hamas gave conflicting information as to how many of them were Hamas militants.

At least 422 rockets from Gaza have been fired into Israel since “Operation Pillar of Defense” began Wednesday, the Israeli military said. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted 130, the Israel Defense Forces said. The al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas’ military arm, said on its Twitter feed that it had shot 527 projectiles at Israel in that time.

The escalating violence triggered the Israeli army to move nearly a division’s worth of troops — perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 — to the border, the official said.

While multiple militant groups are behind the rocket attacks, Israel holds Hamas responsible ever since it took control of Gaza, Barak said.

Hamas’ military wing has claimed responsibility for numerous operations in the past. The U.S. government and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Netanyahu issued a statement Thursday saying, “In recent days and weeks, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza have made normal life impossible for over 1 million Israelis. No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire.”

He added, “The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties.”

Reportedly, Hamas’ deputy foreign minister told CNN that Hamas was sending rockets toward Israel’s population because Israel thinks “that it is easy to kill people in Gaza,” enter the area and “do everything” it wants in Gaza. “We send a message to them that Gaza is not an easy bone. … You can’t eat Gaza in one minute. If you do something, we will react.”

Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said the Israeli government has “proven that it is a government of war and not peace.” Israel is “the oppressor,” not the victim, he said.

Neither side seems to want to give an inch; therefore the offensive made a turn for the worst in the last 24 hours.

However, at the moment Palestinians are welcoming the Egyptian Prime minister’s visit.

After two days of air strikes, 19 Palestinians have been killed. On Thursday morning three Israelis in Kiryat Malachi were reported to have been killed Thursday morning.

An Egyptian government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials accompanying Kandil would explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire.

Mursi is facing domestic pressure to act tough; but such behavior would not be in the countries best interests as Egypt gets $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid and looks to Washington for help with its ailing economy, constraining Mursi.

A spokesman for the IDF refused to comment on whether the visit will affect Israeli military operations in Gaza.

Egypt and Israel are officially at peace, though relations between the countries are chilly. The endangerment of an Egyptian minister by an Israeli strike would likely push ties between Jerusalem and Cairo beyond the brink; thus the Israeli Prime Minister, Natanyahu has good reason to cease military aggression while Egypt with Hamas and others.

Egypt has reacted harshly to operation Pillar of Defense, recalling its ambassador to Tel Aviv Atef Salem just hours after the operation began.

Morsi submitted a letter of protest to Israeli ambassador to Cairo Yaakov Amitai and called for swift diplomatic action against Israel in the UN Security Council and the Arab League, based in Cairo.

Morsi called Israel’s military campaign “unacceptable aggression” but avoided sharper condemnations of Israel. According to Egypt’s MENA news agency, he discussed ways to stop the violence with the regents of Jordan and Qatar Thursday evening.

Morsi’s comments were in contrast to the heavy rhetoric against Israel in the past few days by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement from which Morsi emerged.

The head of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, blasted Israel as “the project of the devil” during a speech Thursday at an Islamic conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

Morsi has been deliberately careful not to join the over-the-top rhetoric as it seeks to keep ties to the United States on good terms.

The most recent reports this evening say Israel would definitely stop firing on Hamas if Gaza militants also hold their offensive during Kandil’s three-hour visit later Friday.

Since Hosni Mubarak historic toppling, Morsi has been conservative when comes to change. The Egyptian President has promised to abide by Egypt’s 1979 peace deal with Israel. So far, their position has not changed.

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