Fearing a fresh flareup between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip amid the political deadlock in Jerusalem, an Egyptian intelligence delegation paid a secret visit to Israel, Channel 13 reported on Friday.
The envoys from Cairo met with senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday for the first time since the September 17 elections in Israel, which resulted in no clear winner. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday was given the first stab at forming a coalition, but the bloc of his traditional partners is not large enough to form a government.
Egyptian officials are concerned that the situation in Gaza will once again spiral into violence, and with only a caretaker prime minister governing in Jerusalem, Israel will have a harder time preventing the situation from escalating to a full-blown war.
There was no mention of the delegation also visiting Gaza. Egypt has brokered a number of truces between Israel and Hamas in recent times.
On September 10, two rockets were launched from Gaza, at Ashkelon and another at Ashdod during a campaign rally by the prime minister, who was whisked off the stage by his bodyguards to take shelter.
Haaretz reported that Netanyahu planned a large offensive in Gaza after the incident but scotched the plan after the attorney general advised him he would need to get cabinet approval.
Hours after the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu convened the heads of the security establishment, including IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, sought an “extraordinary” and “far-reaching” military reaction to the rockets — the nature of which was not disclosed — but several security officials were hesitant to take such action.
On the day after elections last week, three mortar shells were fired toward Israel. The projectiles all fell short of the border, two of them hitting a home in the southern city of Rafah and lightly wounding seven people, according to the enclave’s Hamas-run health ministry. The third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Also on Friday, over 7,000 Palestinians took part in the weekly protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, according to numbers from the IDF, which said that some of the demonstrators hurled explosive devices at soldiers as well as the border fence.
A Hamas spokesman said that 28 Palestinians were injured, including three from live fire.