Israel agrees to truce during Egyptian PM’s visit

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Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil crossed into Gaza on Friday for a brief visit amid a massive Israeli military campaign against militants in the Hamas-run territory.

Shortly ahead of his arrival at the Rafah crossing, Israel said it would during his visit halt its relentless aerial campaign against the Gaza Strip, which has angered Egypt and sent tensions soaring across the Middle East. Officials in Gaza said Qandil would meet with top members of the ruling Islamist Hamas movement on a brief visit. Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsy — who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood movement that gave birth to Hamas — warned on Thursday that Egypt would not accept Israel’s “aggression” in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli warplanes carried out relentless sorties over the Gaza Strip through the night while Palestinian militants fired more rockets into the Jewish state, which on Thursday agreed in principle for the call-up of 30,000 reservists and warned it would expand its operation.

As dawn broke in the tiny Palestinian enclave, Israeli war planes carried out multiple new air strikes, including several hits on Gaza City as Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence, aimed at stamping out rocket fire, entered its third day. “There have been 130 strikes overnight until now,” Hamas interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said, citing “tens of strikes” across Gaza on Friday morning. And the Israeli army said it had carried out 466 air strikes since it launched the operation on Wednesday afternoon with the targeted killing of top Hamas military commander Ahmed Jaabari. As Israel’s leadership vowed to do whatever necessary to bring quiet to the area, military sources warned that “an excessive amount of weapons storage facilities” had been “deliberately located inside civilian residential buildings.”

Egyptian premier Hisham Qandil vowed Friday to intensify Cairo’s efforts to secure a truce and end Israel’s “aggression” in Gaza, after a strike killed two as he visited the strip.AFP



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