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Egypt mediators 'angered' by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

Egypt mediators 'angry' after Israeli airstrikes on Gaza which killed 13, feel 'misled'
3 min read
09 May, 2023
Mediators in Egypt are saying they should abandon contacts with Netanyahu's government for the time being, after Israel killed 13 people including children in the Gaza Strip.
The airstrike at dawn killed at least 13 people, including children and 3 Islamic Jihad officials [Getty]

Egyptian mediators are "extremely angry" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday which killed at least 13 people, sources close to the Egyptian government have said.

The Israeli army announced that it had targeted three leaders of the Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ), as well as a "weapon manufacturing sites" belonging to the group at dawn, but at least seven children died in the air raids.

The Egyptian team tasked with mediation efforts between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza are in a "state of confusion" and highly dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s government, a source from Cairo told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Egypt feels "misled" by Israel, which vowed not to resort to political assassinations during the last round of talks that took place with PIJ following Egyptian warnings, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Despite this, three senior members of the group were killed in the latest air strikes.

Tuesday’s flare up comes less than a week after PIJ announced a truce around Gaza following an exchange of fire with Israel after the death of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan in Israeli custody.

Adnan was a PIJ leader in the occupied West Bank.

Egypt, which reached a peace agreement with Israel in 1979, has a long history of brokering ceasefire deals between Israel and Palestinian factions.

There are now conflicting opinions in Cairo, the source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

While some officials believe Egyptian intervention was urgently needed to avoid another all-out war in Gaza, others believe Egypt should withdraw from any mediation efforts until Israeli government officials "understand the mistake they committed," considering the dangers of igniting multiple fronts.

They warned that Israel’s deadly strike might not only prompt retaliation from Gaza, but risks igniting the south Lebanon front, where the Hezbollah militant group operates.

Egypt will be put in an "embarrassing" position if its mediation efforts are unsuccessful, as the PIJ is adamant on responding to Israeli airstrikes, so any efforts to de-escalate will be of no benefit right now, the source quoted some of the Egyptian mediators as saying.

"Until now, there is a majority within the Egyptian mediation team that wants to cease contact with the Israeli side, at least for now, while limiting itself to communication channels with the US until things become clearer," another source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The source, which also spoke on condition of anonymity, believed that the Israeli airstrike might be an attempt by Netanyahu to end the feud within his crisis-hit government, which has seen extremist Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir boycott government meetings.

Many of Netanyahu’s extreme-right cabinet members said Israel’s response to Gaza rocket fire last week was "weak," and are pushing for military operations in the West Bank.

Netanyahu is already facing months-long street protests over his proposed judicial overhaul plan.

The PIJ on Tuesday vowed revenge for the killing of its leaders and civilians in Gaza.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed since the start of this year by Israeli forces and settlers, in both the besieged coastal enclave and the West Bank.

Israel has ignored regional and international calls to stop its demolitions of Palestinian homes, administrative detention of prisoners, deadly raids of Palestinian towns, and attacks on civilians.