No halt to airstrikes as Egyptian PM visits Gaza
The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Kandil, arrived in Gaza today as part of a mission to try and de-escalate the violence between Israel and Palestine.
The violence has engulfed the two sides over the past few days, and intensified following the Israeli assassination of Hamas’ military commander.
During his short visit Kandil declared the situation a “disaster” and insisted that Israel’s aggression “must stop” following a discussion with Gaza’s Hamas leaders. Hamas are an offshoot of his own party the Muslim Brotherhood, who recently won Egypt’s first democratic elections following the downfall of President Mubarak.
It was promised by the Israeli Prime Minister that Kandil’s visit would help bring a short ceasefire between the two sides. However, following reports that 21 rockets were launched from Gaza in the wake of the truce, Israel continued its strikes. Some of the Palestinian rockets have come within 12 kilometres of Tel Aviv, a city where over 40 percent of the Israeli population live. This is the first time this has happened since the Iraq war more than 20 years ago.
There has been an outcry from the international community for Israel to show caution in its retaliations. EU Foreign Policy head Lady Ashton has said that Israel has the right to protect its people, but that it must try and show restraint and react proportionately. Meanwhile UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay urged both sides to step back from an “increasingly dangerous confrontation.”
The aim of Kandil’s visit was to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza as well as bring hope that a truce could be mediated between the two sides. However, there seems to be no immediate end to the terror as Israel is mobilising more than 30,000 army reservists to its southern border with Gaza and an army spokesman has declared “it is too early to talk of a ceasefire.”
Both British and American politicians have warned against Israel launching a ground offensive. The British Foreign Secretary highlighted that Israel should show constraint: “Israel does have to bear in mind that it’s when ground invasions have taken place … that they have lost [international] sympathy.”