Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived in the Gaza Strip on Friday to show support for the Palestinian people and meet with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh following a two-day Israeli military offensive in the enclave.
Dozens of rockets were fired on Israel's southern communities after the leader's arrival, nixing hopes for a lull.
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"The Palestinian people sacrifice martyrs everyday in the fight for its rights," Kandil said at a press conference jointly held with Haniyeh outside Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital. "Egypt will stand by the Palestinian people until they attain all their legitimate rights."
Kandil with Haniyeh on Friday (Photo: Reuters)
Kandil said that his visit was the first of many to be made by Egyptian delegates.
"This tragedy cannot pass in silence and the world should take responsibility in stopping this aggression," he said, urging Israel to abide by its commitments.
He further stated that "Egypt is acting in multiple arenas to put an end to the aggression, bring peace and establish a Palestinian state."
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Egypt that Israel would be prepared to suspend its military offensive in the Gaza Strip during the Egyptian prime minister's visit there, according to an Israeli official.
The official in the Netanyahu's office said Israel would do so if Gaza terrorists also hold their fire during Kandil's visit Friday. The official said Netanyahu was acting on an Egyptian request.
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said while visiting Sderot on Friday that Israel won't risk hurting the visiting prime minister.
"We will not endanger the life of the Egyptian prime minister in any way," he said. "The goal is to restore deterrence. We want to ensure that before someone fires on Israel, their hands will tremble."
The minister continued to brand Gaza as "Iran's terror base."
Show of solidarity (Photo: AFP)
In an unprecedented display of solidarity with Hamas militants embroiled in a conflict that risks spiraling into all-out war, Kandil was expected to spend three hours in the enclave.
Sources said he would explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire amid news that Israel was calling up thousands of reservists ahead of a possible ground invasion.
Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, viewed by Hamas as a protector, led a chorus of denunciation of the Israeli strikes by allies of the Palestinians.
Morsi said Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip were "unacceptable" and would destabilize the region, in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.
"We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression and we do not accept under any circumstances the continuation of this aggression on the Strip," he said.
AP and Reuters contributed to the report
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