Egypt warns against Israeli attack on Gaza

Dina Ezzat, Wednesday 23 Mar 2011

Egypt's new foreign minister issues a statement warning Tel Aviv of the negative consequences of launching any military operations in Gaza following bus bombing in Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi on Wednesday evening issued a press statement to "reject and condemn attacks on any civilian life" in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip.

El-Arabi's statement came hours after an explosion hit a Jerusalem bus, killing one woman and leaving around 20 others wounded in West Jerusalem.

The statement issued by the office of the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson warned at the same time "of the grave consequences of escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence".

El-Arabi stated that a new cycle of violence would endanger stability and compromise the interests of Palestinians and Israelis.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister El-Arabi urged Israel to exercise self-restraint. "Rushing into an operation in Gaza would only aggravate tension and frustration," he stated.

In an indirect message to Palestinian resistance groups, the statement of the foreign minister called on "all concerned to avoid giving Israel a pretext to exercise violence".

Meanwhile, an Egyptian official source told Ahram Online that Cairo is "contacting the leaders of the [Palestinian] resistance groups to urge them to refrain from offering Israel an easy pretext to start a war against Gaza".

The same official added that a new Israeli war on Gaza could hinder Cairo's plans to introduce easier regulations on the operation of the Rafah Crossing, the only non-Israeli controlled checkpoint between the besieged Gaza Strip and the rest of the world.

"We are considering plans to serve this purpose that would make the lives of Palestinians easier in Gaza and we hope that things will not take the wrong turn," the same official added.

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