Egypt to Hamas: We will not intervene if violence continues
Egypt sends apparent message to Hamas to stop the rocket fire • Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin: Israel takes Egypt's reaction into consideration over any ground operation in the Gaza Strip • Ten Egyptian political parties protest in Cairo against Israel's actions in Gaza.
Israel Hayom Staff, Shlomo Cesana, Gadi Golan, Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval
Popular Resistance Committee fighters in Gaza City, Sunday.
Photo credit: AFP
Egypt has told Hamas it will not intervene on its behalf if the current wave of violence on the Gaza-Israeli border continues, a senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom on Monday night.
While not explicitly calling for a cease-fire, the statement appears to be a message from Egypt to Hamas to stop the rocket fire. The message seems to have gotten through, as only one rocket was fired at Israel on Tuesday, bringing the total rocket count since Saturday night to 150.
Following reports that Israel was considering an aggressive operation in Gaza to stop the intensified rocket fire into southern Israel, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), told Israel Radio on Tuesday morning: "We have to take Egypt's reaction into consideration, given that they are an important player in the region, but this doesn't mean that we can keep 100,000 Israelis in bomb shelters every night."
Former National Security Adviser Uzi Dayan, also speaking on Israel Radio on Tuesday, said that Egypt's reaction to an Israeli operation in Gaza, while important, should not be the overriding factor in Israeli decision-making.
"We need to take into account the Egyptian position but we need to act according to our own interests,” Dayan said. “And if we don't deal with Hamas how can we then tell the Egyptians that they need to deal with the terrorists in Sinai? The world might not like what we need to do, but we need to bring peace and security to our citizens. In the end, the world respects the strong."
The latest round of fighting started on Saturday when Palestinian militants fired an antitank missile at an Israel Defense Forces jeep on the Gaza border. The attack wounded four soldiers and prompted Israeli counterattacks on targets in Gaza which have left at least eight Palestinians dead and more than 20 wounded. In Israel, rocket fire wounded at least eight Israelis, and 26 others had to be treated for shock.
Ten Egyptian political parties took to the streets of Cairo on Monday to protest Israel's actions in Gaza.
According to Al-Ahram daily newspaper, the 10 parties signed a statement which said, "We reject the situation whereby after a revolution, the government can continue to hide its deals with Israel and instead continue to blame the Palestinians for deteriorating security in Sinai."
The parties demanded that the Camp David peace treaty with Israel be made public "for citizens to know its catastrophic effect" on Egypt. The statement was signed by a number of political organizations, including the Egyptian Popular Current, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Popular Committees for the Protection of the Revolution, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces, the National Assembly for Change, the Free Egyptian movement, the Free Egyptians Party, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, and the Kefaya movement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to meet with his Forum of Nine senior ministers on Tuesday to discuss possible actions to stop the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza.
The discussion comes after Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz met for a situation assessment on Tuesday morning.
"For better or worse, I will not let this situation continue," Netanyahu said after the meeting.
MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) spoke with Army Radio about a possible IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.
"If someone thinks that the upcoming elections will be the deciding factor then they are complete mistaken,” he said. “There is no way we will send one million citizens to bomb shelters for an election's sake. We must restore deterrence [in the Gaza Strip]."
Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket into the southern city of Ashdod Tuesday morning. The rocket exploded in an open field without causing damage or injuries. Israel Air Force aircraft attacked multiple targets overnight, and reported direct hits on terrorist installations.
WATCH: Rocket fired from the Gaza Strip explodes in factory in border town Netivot
Despite the restrained Israeli response, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have signaled that they are not interested in an escalation of violence, and that they are prepared to implement a cease-fire. The Hamas leadership on Monday summoned the leaders of the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees to its headquarters in Gaza.
Following Hamas' meeting, the terrorist groups announced that they would consider a cease-fire if Israel promised to adhere to one as well.
"Palestinian organizations answered Hamas' call and are willing to stop firing, so long as Israel doesn't attack or carry out assassinations in Gaza,” a Hamas spokesman said. “If they continue their aggression we will consider ourselves free from any obligation."
Barak toured Israel's south on Monday as well. He leveled criticism at Israeli public officials for talking about military options in Gaza: "I would like to call for a stop to the never-ending chatter regarding what, where and exactly what we will do to Hamas. We need to stop talking and let the IDF prepare and the government decide how to react."
Meanwhile, Netanyahu summoned 70 foreign ambassadors to Ashkelon on Monday to discuss the current situation in the south. "If an alarm is sounded, all of us have exactly 30 seconds to find shelter. This is the situation in which one million Israelis find themselves," he said.
"The world must understand that Israel has the duty and the right to protect its citizens. We won't sit on our hands while attacks continue nearly on a daily basis, on our citizens and on our children."
"A million Israelis, including many little children, like the ones here, are targeted on a daily basis, by people who took areas that we vacated, that the government of Israel vacated, came in there, and are now hiding behind civilians, while firing on civilians, firing on our children ... I don’t know of any of your governments who could accept such a thing."
Netanyahu said it was Israel's right and duty to protect its citizens, and that any "fair-minded person" would understand that it was the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, the Knesset is expected to convene a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the south.