An Islamic Jihad spokesman said on Wednesday that his group is not interested in engaging international interlocutors to achieve a ceasefire with Israel so long as it is still retaliating for the killing of its terror chief in the Gaza Strip.
“There is no talk about mediation. It is inappropriate to talk about that, with all due respect to any Arab efforts [to restore calm],” Musab al-Breim told the Hamas-linked Shehab news site. “When we complete our response, it is possible to discuss calm.”
Breim made the statement a day after Israel killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza in a dawn strike. Terror groups in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, subsequently fired large salvos of rockets at cities and towns in the Jewish state, prompting retaliatory Israeli strikes in the Palestinian enclave.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Palestinian terror groups were still firing large numbers of rockets into southern Israel, while the IDF continued to carry out strikes in Gaza.
Daoud Shehab, another Islamic Jihad spokesman, told Al-Jazeera on Tuesday that it was still too early to speak about brokering a restoration of calm.
Egyptian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Tuesday that Cairo was attempting to lower tensions between Israel and the terror groups. The officials added the Egyptian General Intelligence Service stepped up communications and “opened channels” with the United States and the European Union.
A diplomatic source who asked to remain nameless said Tuesday evening that UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov was “heading urgently to Cairo.”
The source also said that the UN had been involved throughout Tuesday in efforts to deescalate tensions between the Jewish state and the terrorist organizations.
In the past year, both the Egyptian General Intelligence Services and Mladenov have been involved in brokering unofficial ceasefires between Israel and the terror groups.
Egyptian intelligence officials and Mladenov have frequently visited Gaza to discuss the truce agreements.
Terror groups in Gaza fired approximately 250 rockets and mortar shells at central and southern Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the army.
Dozens of incoming rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the IDF has said.
Abu al-Ata was the true “senior commander” of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip who had ordered the group to carry out most of the significant rocket and border attacks from the Palestinian enclave in recent months and had been planning to carry out more, the army said.
Several Israelis were wounded on Tuesday either by rocket fire or while running to shelters.
Meanwhile, 21 Palestinians, including Abu al-Ata, have been killed by the Israeli strikes since Tuesday morning and 69 others have been wounded, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. At least 12 of those killed have been identified by terror groups as members.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.