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Report: Egypt able to broker Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza

Egyptian intelligence officials hold urgent meetings with heads of Gaza’s terrorist groups after Israeli Air Force pounds enclave in response to rocket fire that hit Beersheva home.

Hamas rocket-launchers in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.
Hamas rocket-launchers in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.

Palestinian media reported Wednesday that Egypt has ‎been able to broker a cease-fire between Israel and ‎Hamas in the wake of the flare-up in southern Israel that morning, which ‎was threatening to escalate rapidly. ‎

The report was not corroborated by Egyptian or Israeli officials.

Israeli fighter jets struck 20 Hamas positions in ‎‎the ‎Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning after a Grad ‎rocket ‎fired from Gaza hit a house in Beersheva, ‎‎40 kilometers (25 miles) away, ‎causing extensive ‎damage to the building.‎

Six people, including a woman and her three ‎‎children, managed to escape the rocket attack with only minor ‎‎injuries, as they were able to reach shelters within the ‎60-second alert ‎time. ‎A defense official ‎later said that the 20-kilogram ‎‎(44-pound) rocket ‎may have condemned the building. ‎

The second rocket landed in the ocean, off the coast ‎‎‎‎of a major central Israeli city, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that ‎Egyptian officials who are visiting Gaza in efforts to mediate a long-term truce teamed ‎with U.N. Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov and ‎held urgent meetings with the Palestinian factions ‎in Gaza.‎

Egyptian intelligence official Ahmed Abdel Khalek, ‎who heads the delegation, was able to convince the ‎Gazan groups to halt their fire, the report said.‎

Mladenov ‎later met with President Reuven Rivlin to ‎discuss the developments in Gaza. ‎

“Unfortunately, the past 24 ‎hours have been very complicated,” said Mladenov. “The rockets fired ‎at Beersheva were a dangerous escalation, part of a ‎pattern of provocation meant to drag Israel and Gaza ‎to another war.”‎

Rivlin stressed that “the world must know that the ‎State of Israel will not sit idly by while its ‎citizens come under attack.”

The delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence ‎officials and diplomats arrived in the Gaza Strip on ‎Tuesday for a series of meetings with Hamas leaders, ‎ahead of Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel’s ‎shuttle diplomacy mission between Tel Aviv and ‎Ramallah. ‎

Cairo said this was a last-ditch effort to stave off ‎a military conflict between Hamas and Israel.‎

Senior Egyptian intelligence officials told Israel ‎Hayom that Kamel, who was not planning to visit ‎Gaza, first wants to stabilize the situation, then kick-start the stalled reconciliation ‎efforts between the rival Palestinian factions.‎

It is unclear how the recent developments may affect his ‎mission.‎

The reports were also unclear as to whether ‎the Egyptian-brokered truce would be a long-term one that ‎could become a wider agreement that would ‎alleviate the economic crisis in Gaza, or whether it would be simply ‎another short-lived lull.‎

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