Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Saturday that his government was engaged in active efforts to calm the fighting in the Gaza Strip, a day after Israel launched what it said was a preemptive military operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
Addressing a ceremony at an Egyptian military academic college, Sissi said his administration was “in round-the-clock communications to prevent the situation from getting out of control in the Gaza Strip.”
The Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Breaking Dawn on Friday, with airstrikes in Gaza on Friday afternoon in response to what officials said was an ongoing concrete threat by the PIJ to target Israeli civilians and soldiers. It killed an Islamic Jihad commander and members of a terror cell that the IDF spokesman said were preparing to “mow down” Israelis near the Gaza border.
The Al-Arabiya news site reported Saturday that Egypt had offered a ceasefire to the two sides, but both Israel and PIJ refused at this stage.
During both rounds of fighting and lulls in violence, Egypt has played a central role in mediating between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists.
The IDF said Saturday it was prepared for a potential week of fighting against PIJ, as over 360 rockets were launched at Israel from the coastal enclave, with Tel Aviv and the central city of Modiin targeted as well as southern cities and towns.
The military said the Iron Dome missile defense system had demonstrated a 95 percent success rate at intercepting projectiles fired toward populated areas.
The IDF said it had struck numerous PIJ sites, as well as terror cells trying to launch projectiles at towns in southern Israel.
Saturday saw a street in Ashkelon, a home in Sderot and a factory in a town close to the border hit by rockets, without injuries. Three people, including two soldiers, were also lightly hurt in a separate mortar bombardment near a town in the Eshkol Regional Council.
The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon said it had treated 20 people so far amid the rocket attacks on southern Israel, including 15 people who were lightly hurt after falling over while running to bomb shelters, and a further five people for anxiety.