Egypt condemns IDF’s ground operation on Gaza
Smoke from flares rises in the sky in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip - AP

CAIRO: Egypt condemned Thursday evening the Israeli “escalation” on the Gaza Strip after the Israeli Defense Forces launched a ground incursion into Gaza which is controlled by Hamas, according to a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Thursday evening launching a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli Defense Forces’ official Twitter account, which added that “a new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun.”

Egypt renewed its call for the concerned parties to agree on a plan to reach a truce and to accept the immediate and unconditional Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, added the statement of which Youm7 got a copy.

The ground operation came after Israel’s earlier declaration of a six-hour truce proposed by the UN on Wednesday; Israeli Army had agreed to a ceasefire Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., said  Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri on his official Facebook account Thursday.

However, Israel continued striking Gaza Thursday, leading to 5 killed including an infant, AFP reported. 240 Palestinians have been killed and 1,770 injured since the beginning of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza strip, BBC reported Thursday.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian political organization Hamas, launched its rockets on South Israel and announced its responsibilities for striking Ashdod and Netivot, MENA reported.

The latest Israeli raids on Gaza began July 1, a day after Israeli authorities found the bodies of three kidnapped settlers in the West Bank. The body of Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was later found mutilated and burned, in what was widely interpreted as an act of revenge for the death of the Israelis. However, the Israeli military said it attacked 34 targets in Gaza, mostly belonging to Hamas, claiming that it did not link the strikes to the abductions, Reuters reported. Hamas started launching rockets into Israel in its latest campaign on July 4, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Protests against Israeli ground operation

Hours after Israel announced its ground operation into Gaza, some of Egyptian staged a protest in the early hours of Friday against Israel in front of the Israeli ambassador’s house in Maadi district, Youm7 reported.

The protesters chanted against Israel and announced their support of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Some of the protesters clashed with the security guards of the house and fired flares, while others burned the Israeli flag.

Warning to the Egyptians in Gaza

Egyptian ambassador to Palestine Wael Nasr el-din Atiya said that Egypt is still making its contacts to bring calm for the region, calling all Egyptian expatriates in Palestine to be cautious and to avoid clashing zones.

He asked all Egyptians who want to return home to head to Rafah crossing and all measures will be facilitated, according to Youm7 Thursday.

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