Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Cairo this morning to discuss with President Mohamed Morsi the Israeli assault on Gaza. Erdogan and Morsi met for 40 minutes to study all the means available to find a ceasefire in Gaza.
Last night, Erdogan also signed several investment contracts with Egypt, reflecting mutual economic cooperation between the two countries.
Meanwhile, “President Morsi made several phone calls to the leaders of the US, France, Italy, Britain and Argentina to pressure Israel into halting its attacks on Palestinian territories,” presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.
On Friday 16 November Prime Minister Hisham Kandil travelled to Gaza at the head of a high-ranking delegation in an unprecedented step to support the Palestinians against the Israeli onslaught. The delegation included Health Minister Mohamed Mustafa as well as a number of President Morsi’s aides. During the visit, Kandil discussed a possible ceasefire as well as a stop to the firing of missiles from the Gaza Strip to Israeli territories. Kandil, who visited Al-Shefaa medical centre in Gaza, condemned the Israeli attacks “against innocent Palestinians”.
Israel and the Palestinians have been exchanging fire for close to a week, leading to the killing of 29 Palestinians and three Israelis. The number of Palestinians injured is over 270.
During Kandil’s visit, Israel suspended its military attacks while Hamas fired at least 50 rockets during that time. During the visit which lasted for just a few hours, Kandil stated, “the Egyptian government will exert its utmost effort to halt the aggression in order to reach a truce between both sides… Egypt is keen on establishing a Palestinian state whose capital would be Jerusalem.”
The Israeli forces announced their targeting of 450 of what they claimed were terrorist sites in Gaza, whereas more than 330 missiles fired from Gaza landed in Israeli territory. The Israeli army declared that its missiles had destroyed more than 130 rockets which were heading towards Israel.
Israeli military forces also deployed tanks along the border with Gaza and mobilised almost 30,000 infantry reservists.
On Wednesday 14 November Israeli jet fighters killed Ahmed Al-Jabari, a leader of Hamas’s military wing.
That same day, Morsi recalled Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Atef Salem, to protest against the Israeli attacks against Palestinians in Gaza. Presidential spokesman Ali stated in a press conference, “The president also summoned Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, to inform him of Egypt’s rejection of Israeli air strikes on Gaza.” Amitai has been Israel’s ambassador to Egypt since December 2011.
Morsi instructed Egypt’s representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. The president also urged the Arab League secretary-general to hold an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the current situation in Gaza and possible ways to deter the attacks.