GAZA CITY – In a brief visit to bombarded Gaza strip, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Kandil denounced on Friday, November 16, Israel's attacks on the Palestinian territory and said Cairo would try to secure a cease-fire.
"Egypt will not hesitate to intensify its efforts and make sacrifices to stop this aggression and achieve a lasting truce," Kandil said during a visit to a Gaza hospital, Reuters reported.
The latest Israeli attacks started Wednesday after Israel killed the head of Ezzedine al-Qassam Bridgades, Ahmed Jaabari, in an air strike.
Israel has said the strikes were only "the beginning" of an offensive targeting Gaza fighters and warned it may expand its activity.
For the third day, Israel continued airstrikes on Gaza, taking the Palestinian death toll to 20, including at least five children.
Israeli planes also hit targets in northern Gaza, Gaza City and east of Khan Yunis.
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, warned on Thursday that Egypt would not accept Israel's "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.
Morsi has ordered the foreign ministry to summon the Israeli envoy over the attacks, and called for an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, which is slated to be held in Cairo on Saturday.
Morsi's spokesman, Yasser Ali, said on Thursday that Kandil "will travel to Gaza to express our support for the Palestinian people and to see what they need."
A White House statement said Obama held talks with Egypt’s president and Israeli Premier Netanyahu to discuss ways of restoring calm.
Egypt, only one of two Arab countries with a peace treaty with Israel, has played a role in recent years brokering a suspension of hostilities between Israel and Hamas rulers in Gaza.
Though announcing a pause for their attacks during Kandil’s visit, Israeli officials said they had launched air strikes, claiming that rockets had continued to hit Israeli towns and cities.
While Kandil was at the hospital in Gaza, medical workers brought in the bodies of a man and a boy who officials said had been killed in an Israeli air strike moments earlier.
"What I am witnessing in Gaza is a disaster and I can't keep quiet,” PM Kandil said, the BBC reported.
“The Israeli aggression must stop," he added.
The escalating conflict has drawn expressions of deep concern internationally and sparked anger in the Arab and Muslim world.
As dawn broke in the tiny Palestinian enclave, Israeli war planes carried out multiple new air strikes, including several hits on Gaza City as Israel's Operation Pillar of Defence, aimed at stamping out rocket fire, entered its third day.
"There have been 130 strikes overnight until now," Hamas interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said, citing "tens of strikes" across Gaza on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Israeli army in Al-Quds (Occupied Jerusalem) started calling up 16,000 reservists with officials saying that Israel was preparing for a possible ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.
"They're distributing emergency call-up notices now, the process has started," an army spokeswoman told AFP.
"As part of Operation Pillar of Defence, the IDF (army) will begin recruiting 16,000 reservists," the military said on its official Twitter feed.