Smoke rises above buildings in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, during an Israeli air strike, on May 12, 2021. - Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip have hit the homes of high-ranking members of the Hamas militant group, the military said Wednesday, with the territory's police headquarters also targeted. AFP
Egypt will send two security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip to promote de-escalation amid the ongoing clashes in the occupied territories, sources told Al-Arabiya on Wednesday.
According to the sources, Cairo has demanded that a ceasefire is implemented before the Egyptian delegations are dispatched with the goal of "de-escalating the situation before it becomes aggravated."
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed or injured in the past 48 hours as Israel intensified a week-old violent crackdown on protesters in East Jerusalem and carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas has launched rocket attacks against Israel in retaliation to Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, killing five Israelis.
Israel retaliated by bombing Gaza, leaving more than 53 dead, including 14 children, and dozens injured.
According to the sources, Cairo has contacted the two sides on Wednesday morning and called for all parties to implement an immediate ceasefire.
The time of the visit by the two delegations to Gaza and Tel Aviv will be determined later today, the sources said.
The sources told Al-Arabiya that Egypt has sent two urgent telegrams calling on the two sides to stop targeting civilians and civilian institutions and warned of the consequences of a comprehensive military operation in Gaza.
However, the sources said that both sides have rejected all calls for de-escalation or truce.
Israel has informed Egypt and other mediating countries its rejection of proposals for a short-term truce or a stop to its military operations in Gaza before further and broader operations are carried out to target commanders and weapons arsenals, the sources added.
Over the past few days, Egypt has stressed its condemnation of the Israeli assaults on Al-Aqsa mosque and Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
In two separate statements, the Egyptian foreign ministry condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and called for an immediate halt of the Israeli crackdown in East Jerusalem.
The ministry urged the Israeli authorities to shoulder their responsibility in protecting Palestinian civilians and respecting their right to worship.
The ministry also rejected any illegal activities that seek to undermine the legal and unwavering rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, as well as the confiscation of lands and the displacement of Palestinians.
It also denounced the ongoing Israeli endeavour to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district.
Message to the Israeli ambassador in Cairo
On Sunday, Egypt’s foreign ministry held a meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Cairo Amira Oron, where Egyptian officials asserted the country’s complete rejection and denouncement of the storming by Israeli authorities of Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
Nazih El-Naggary, the minister’s assistant, and Hossam Ali, the head of the foreign ministry’s Israel Department, stressed to the Israeli ambassador the necessity of respecting Islamic holy places, providing protection to Palestinian civilians, and protecting their rights to practice their religion.
The Egyptian officials reiterated in the meeting all the points mentioned in the Egyptian statement issued on Friday condemning the Israeli escalations in East Jerusalem.
Egypt at the Arab League
On Tuesday, the Cairo-based Arab League held an extraordinary meeting during which it strongly condemned the Israeli actions in Jerusalem and voiced full solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The Arab League announced a number of decisions that seek to halt the Israeli violations, including calling on the International Criminal Court to proceed with its planned probe into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity against unarmed Palestinians.
It also formed a seven-member ministerial committee tasked with lobbying permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and other influential states to take steps to halt Israeli aggression in East Jerusalem.
During the Arab League meeting, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on Israeli authorities to end all violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque and stop attempts to evict residents of Sheikh Jarrah from their homes.
"Egypt will not stand idle amid what is going on in the holy city," the top diplomat said, adding that Israel's attacks against defenceless worshipers run counter to international law, undermine efforts to reach a two-state solution and seriously threaten regional security and stability.
Shoukry said the continued attempts to change the identity of Jerusalem and to deprive its Arab people of their rights will not go unnoticed.
“The policy of imposing the status quo and resorting to excessive force that Israel has consistently pursued has proven its failure to achieve security in the region,” Shoukry added.
Shoukry strongly criticised the Security Council, which held a meeting on Monday to discuss the situation in Jerusalem, for turning a blind eye on the matter.
He said the Security Council should have taken a stance that would reflect its awareness of the danger of what is happening in the Middle East.
"Unfortunately, the council continues to shirk its responsibilities, which makes it lose its credibility," he said.
Shoukry called on the international community to shoulder the responsibility towards what is happening to the Arab residents in the holy city.
Egypt has maintained that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza - with East Jerusalem as its capital - along side the state of Israel is a necessary condition for achieving a just end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and a lasting peace in the Middle East.