CAIRO: Egyptian officials from the office of intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met with Hamas leaders in Al-Arish Thursday to convince them of a ceasefire with Israel.
Also at the meeting were representatives of the Islamic Jihad movement, an indication that there are other groups in Gaza responsible for rocket attacks in southern Israel.
In comments made after the meeting, the Palestinians seemed not to have been won over by the Egyptian overture, but stated that they would give it consideration.
Israel’s Gaza offensive last week led to the deaths of 130 people over eight days, many of them civilians, including women and children.
However, talk of a ceasefire at this point seems superfluous after a Palestinian gunned down eight students of a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem late on Thursday.
According to Hezbollah’s television channel, the group responsible for the attack is the new “Phalange of Free Men of Galilee – Groups of the Martyr Imad Mughnieh and Martyrs of Gaza.
Mughnieh, a Hezbollah commander long wanted by Israel, was killed in Damascus last month. Hezbollah claimed Israel was behind the shooting but Israel did not admit culpability.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian security source confirmed to AP that a wall is being built along the border with Gaza to prevent further breaches like the one that occurred Jan 23, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to enter the Egyptian side of Rafah after an Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Work on the wall began as soon as the border was resealed, as Daily News Egypt reported last month. The new concrete wall is being built to withstand explosions like those that caused the January breaches.
Journalist and North Sinai Tagammu party member Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt that the new wall is being built along the old border line to reinforce the parts that were previously destroyed.
He added that watch towers punctuate the new wall, which is a mixture of concrete and barbed wire.
Last month, Hamas fired shots over the heads of builders working on the new wall causing them to flee.
“Sources in Gaza say that Hamas will fire at anyone attempting to build the wall unless the Rafah border crossing is reopened, North Sinai Tagammu party member Hussein El Qayem told Daily News Egypt at the time.
Hamas is calling for the Rafah border crossing to be reopened, and is demanding a role in overseeing the only direct gateway to Gaza. However, it remains closed and the Egyptians have built their new wall.