CAIRO, Egypt — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to abstain from further steps that could lead to more Palestinian deaths, following Monday’s deadly clashes on the Gaza-Israel border.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians joined Hamas-organized protests on the Gaza border and hundreds of others clashed with Israeli troops on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in other locations in the West Bank, marking the 70th anniversary of what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” of Israel’s creation in 1948, as well as protesting the relocation of the US embassy to Israel’s capital on Monday afternoon.
“I hope that this message reaches our Palestinian brothers that self-expression and protest over this decision does not lead them to measures that could lead to more victims,” Sissi said.
“On the other side, I hope that the Israelis understand that the Palestinian reactions towards this issue are legitimate and that they deal with it with extreme care over the lives of Palestinians,” he added.
Speaking in a live youth conference on state TV, Sissi spoke on Egypt’s role in the conflict, recalling its previous peace efforts and saying that Egypt was in communication with both sides “so that this bloodshed would stop.”
The Egyptian president said he had previously warned that the US embassy move “will have negative implications in the Arab and Muslim public opinion.”
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Tuesday that 62 Palestinians were killed and over 2,700 injured in clashes along the border on Monday and Tuesday. A Hamas official on Wednesday acknowledged that 50 of the Palestinians reported killed were members of the Islamist terrorist group; Islamic Jihad said Tuesday that three of the dead were its members.
Israel claims that Hamas, which rules the Strip and openly calls for Israel’s destruction, was spurring the violence and using it as cover for attacks.
The border protests thinned out Tuesday with only some 4,000 said to join the border protests, according to the IDF. That was compared to some 40,000 Palestinians who participated in violent riots along the security fence on Monday.
On Wednesday, although the rioting had largely ceased, there were three cross-border exchanges including shots said to have been fired from Gaza that hit residential buildings in Sderot, causing damage but no injuries, the army said. The IDF responded with overnight airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza.
Arab foreign ministers are to hold an “extraordinary” meeting Thursday in Cairo to discuss their future steps over the Gaza issue.
Delighting the Israeli government, but angering Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state, US President Donald Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.