Qandil visits Gaza

Hend Kortam
4 Min Read
Qandil and Hania. AFP
Qandil and Hania. AFP

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil visited Gaza on Friday as fears of an Israeli ground operation mounted.

During his meeting with Ismail Haniyah, the prime minister of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, Qandil called on Palestinian factions to unite “in order to face the occupation forces.” He said that Egypt would play a role in any reconciliation between the Palestinian factions. He added that Israel has to stop killing the children of Gaza, according to MENA.

Qandil also said Egypt will continue to encourage a truce. Egypt had helped broker an un-official ceasefire last month when Israel was conducting air raids and armed Palestinian groups were firing rockets into southern Israel.

Haniyah described Qandil’s visit as historic, and that it reflects post-revolution Egypt’s solidarity with Gaza. He called on the Arab World to take a similar stance to Egypt.

There were reports that a ceasefire was agreed during Qandil’s three hour-long meeting. But a Hamas spokesperson claimed that reports of a ceasefire were not true and cited an Israeli raid carried out during Qandil’s visit.

Egypt asked for an emergency session at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the “brutal Israeli aggression on the Palestinians in Gaza,” the Foreign Ministry said in a Thursday statement. The Egyptian representative sent messages to Hardeep Puri, chairman of the UNSC and Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the UN, telling them that the attack – which includes extra-judicial killings and destruction of property – is a violation of international law and the international community must take urgent action against it.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mohamed Amr, the Egyptian foreign minister told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the US should intervene and warned of the consequences of Israeli escalation.

The Israeli army launched Pillar of Defence, a military operation allegedly targeting “terror sites” in Gaza on Wednesday. However, the civilian death toll in the densely populated Gaza Strip has reached 21, including children, teenagers and a pregnant woman. Armed groups in Gaza have been firing rockets into southern Israel, leaving three Israelis dead. They have even claimed to have fired rockets into Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv. These claims have been denied by an Israeli army spokesperson.

The operation started with the targeted assassination of a top Hamas official, the head of its military wing Ahmed Jabari, on Wednesday afternoon.  The Israeli army is using both its air force and naval forces. A spokesperson for the Israeli army said that Israel will call upon 16,000 reserves.

Similar to an Israeli offensive in December 2008 and January 2009, the Israeli army is sending warning messages to Gazans through leaflets. The leaflets read, “For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives… Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed.” Operation Cast Lead left around 1,400 Palestinians dead and fears run high that this operation will be similar.


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