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Egypt pushes for calm in Gaza

Israeli, Palestinian hostilities flare up by The Associated Press | January 3, 2022 at 3:07 a.m.
Palestinians attend a protest in solidarity with Hisham Abu Hawash, an Islamic Jihad member held by Israel under administrative detention, who staged a hunger strike for over 130 days, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan, 2, 2022. Israel's controversial policy of administrative detention allows suspects to be held without charge indefinitely. The banner in Arabic reads, "Those starving behind bars feed the universe with dignity." (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

JERUSALEM -- Egyptian officials Sunday pushed for Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to rein in hostilities and adhere to a cease-fire in place since the war in May.

The Egyptian efforts came a day after Hamas militants launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off central Israel, prompting Israel to carry out airstrikes on militant positions in Gaza early Sunday. No casualties were reported.

The Israeli military said it struck "a rocket manufacturing site and military posts" belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to Saturday's rocket fire.

"Whoever points missiles at Israel bears responsibility," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the government's weekly Cabinet meeting.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants shot an Israeli contractor working along the border fence and Israel responded with tank fire at militant positions in what was the first exchange of fire in months.

Egyptian officials called on Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza to stop their actions seen by Israel as "provocative," and for Israel to accelerate arrangements agreed upon as part of the cease-fire, an Egyptian diplomat with knowledge of the ongoing efforts said. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

"Neither side wants a full-blown war," the diplomat said. "They just want guarantees and steps on the ground."

The cease-fire, brokered by Egypt and other mediators, has been fragile but largely held since the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel in May. But the militant group says Israel has not taken serious steps to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza with Egypt after the Islamic movement seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007.

  photo  An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday Jan, 2, 2022. Israel’s military says it launched strikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip, a day after rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled territory. (AP Photo/Yousef Masoud)
 
 
  photo  Palestinians attend a protest in solidarity with Hisham Abu Hawash, an Islamic Jihad member held by Israel under administrative detention, who staged a hunger strike for over 130 days, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan, 2, 2022. Israel's controversial policy of administrative detention allows suspects to be held without charge indefinitely. The banner in Arabic reads, "Those starving behind bars feed the universe with dignity." (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
 
 

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