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Israel denies launching airstrike during Egypt PM's Gaza visit

Tel Aviv denies reports that it bombarded Hamas-run Gaza Strip during Egyptian PM Qandil's brief Friday visit to besieged coastal territory

MENA , Friday 16 Nov 2012
A Palestinian woman reacts near a house damaged in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip November 16, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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The Israeli military denied launching airstrikes that killed two Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's Friday visit to the embattled coastal enclave.

Shortly before Qandil's arrival at the Rafah Border Crossing that links Egypt to Gaza, Israel said it would halt its aerial bombardments during the prime minister's hours-long visit to the territory.

Despite these promises, however, Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed northern Gaza on Friday morning, during Qandil's visit, according to Palestinian security sources and medics quoted by AFP.

"The occupation's planes bombed a group of citizens in the Nazila area" in northern Gaza, a Palestinian source was quoted as saying.

Taher El-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas-led Gaza government, condemned Friday's reported airstrikes, describing them as "proof of Israeli deception."

Ghazi Hamad, for his part, foreign minister in the Gaza government, warned Israel against the consequences of its aggression against the coastal territory and its roughly 1.7 million inhabitants.  

"The Israelis have to be aware that the Gaza government will not back down from their threats; they can't kill our people and expect us to do nothing about it," Hamad told CNN.

The Egyptian premier has urged Tel Aviv to abide by its international commitments and agreements, vowing "not to remain silent" about the ongoing Israeli violence in which 19 Palestinians have been killed so far and hundreds injured. 

"This visit reflects post-revolution Egypt's solidarity with Gaza," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said of Qandil's visit, which he described as "historic."

Qandil crossed into the Gaza Strip on Friday for a brief visit amid a massive Israeli military campaign aimed at Gaza-based resistance fighters.

During his short trip, the Egyptian PM met with leading members of Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007 after sweeping Palestinian legislative elections one year earlier. 

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