Cairo Trying to Mediate Gaza Ceasefire

YERUSHALAYIM (AP/Hamodia) -
Police sappers deal with a bomb that fell in southern Israel, Tuesday afternoon. (Police Spokesman)

Egyptian officials said that Cairo is attempting to de-escalate tensions between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza amid the worst bout of fighting there in recent months.

The officials say Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the U.S. and the European Union. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Egypt often acts as a mediator between the two sides, and brokered a ceasefire deal in May.

Reaction from abroad was led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who posted: “Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Islamist terrorist org backed by Iran, is again attacking Israel with 100’s of missiles aimed at civilians. We stand with our friend & ally Israel at this critical moment & support Israel’s right to defend itself & bring an end to these barbaric attacks.”

The EU condemned the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel after Israeli airstrikes targeted senior Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza and Syria.

Israeli firefighters work to extinguish a vehicle as it burns after a factory caught on fire in Sderot, Tuesday. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

The 28-nation bloc said in a statement that “the firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop.”

The EU called for “a rapid and complete de-escalation” and stressed that it “is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

The German foreign ministry issued a separate statement: “We condemn this rocket fire in the severest terms. We call for restraint and for an end to the violence. We strongly support Egypt’s and the United Nations’ mediation efforts.”