Brief truce quickly collapses as Egypt’s PM visits Gaza

AGENCIES

Jerusalem, Nov 16: A temporary truce between Israel and Gaza militants during a Friday morning visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil quickly crumbled as Palestinians continued to lob rockets across the border and Israeli aircraft responded with renewed airstrikes.
 In a short tour of the coastal enclave with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Kandil visited a hospital treating wounded victims and appeared at a news conference flanked by guards in olive flak jackets.
 “This tragedy cannot be ignored, and the whole world has to shoulder the responsibility to stop its aggression,” Kandil said, growing emotional as he held up his sleeves to show what he said were spots of blood and described seeing a dead child. “We are standing with you.”
 One strike during Kandil’s visit hit a house, killing a child and a militant inside, Gaza medical officials said. Those deaths raise the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to 21, the officials said. Two Israeli men and one woman were killed Thursday morning when a rocket slammed into their fourth-story apartment in the working-class town of Kiryat Malakhi, about 18 miles north of Gaza.
 Kandil’s visit followed a night of intense airstrikes, which Israel had promised Thursday evening after Gaza militants targeted the populous Tel Aviv region with rockets. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned of exacting a “heavy price; the Israeli military said it hit about 150 rocket-launching sites in Gaza overnight, strikes it said significantly slowed rocket fire. Friday morning, the army announced that it had begun calling up 16,000 reservists for a possible ground operation.
 One early morning air strike demolished a Hamas interior ministry building dedicated to public records and other civil issues, not security matters.
 A spokesman for Hamas, an Islamist movement that rules Gaza, said the group’s military wing had “surprises” in store and suggested that the arsenal being targeted by Israel was far from crippled.
 As if to prove his point, sirens again sounded in Tel Aviv to warn of a possible incoming rocket about 1:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. in Washington). An Israeli police spokesman said the missile landed harmlessly in the Mediterranean sea. But the launch was a sign that Hamas is still trying hard to hit Israel’s largest metropolitan area, which is less than 60 miles from the Gaza border but has not been struck since Iraqi scuds landed there in 1991.
 The launch also indicates that militants still have stockpiles of longer-range rockets despite the Israeli bombardments.
 Both Hamas and Israel are seeking new footing in a volatile region that has undergone a metamorphosis — and is still evolving — since the Arab Spring revolutions, which empowered populist strains that largely favor the Palestinian cause. That backdrop is very different from the one against which Israel carried out a punishing three-week assault on Gaza about four years ago. Few analysts expect the ongoing conflict to widen to other countries, but the regional reactions are unpredictable.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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