They traded heavy fire on Thursday as peace talks mediated by Egypt “stalled,” according to media reports
Attempts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in the Gaza Strip have so far been unsuccessful, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday, the third day of the continued violent escalation between Israel and Gaza. The worst outbreak of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in months has already led to dozens of Palestinians killed and claimed at least one life in Israel.
“Despite our active efforts, these [attempts] have still not … brought about the desired results,” Shoukry said while talking at a joint press conference with other members of the so-called Munich Group, which also includes France, Germany, and Jordan.
Earlier, several media outlets reported that the peace talks mediated by Cairo had “stalled” amid the escalating violence. An Israeli source told the Kan broadcaster that Egypt was “doing everything it can to stabilize the situation.”
A Palestinian source told the Turkish Anadolu news agency that the Islamic Jihad group – one of the militant factions controlling parts of Gaza – linked a potential ceasefire to what it called Israel’s “assassination policy,” referring to Israeli air strikes on Gaza that have killed at least five senior group members since Tuesday, when the violence broke out. Israel made no commitments on that issue, the Israeli media reported.
The Munich Group issued a joint statement on Thursday, expressing its concern over the “deteriorating security situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.” It also condemned what it called “unacceptable civilian casualties, including women and children,” in the enclave.
France, Germany, Egypt and Jordan then urged “an immediate comprehensive ceasefire” to end “Israeli military operations in Gaza and indiscriminate rocket firing against Israel.” The group also said that any “unilateral measures” undermining the viability of the two state solution must cease, without mentioning Israel’s settlement policy in the Occupied West Bank, specifically.
The EU issued a separate statement on Thursday, in which it largely supported the Munich Group’s position and urged for a ceasefire as well.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered the military on Thursday to “take all the measures necessary, prepare additional actions, and maintain readiness for the possibility of increased fire,” according to the Israeli media.
The third day of escalation saw 29 Palestinians killed in Gaza. Rocket fire from the enclave also killed one person in the Israeli city of Rehovot. Five Israelis were also injured in the rocket attacks across the country.
The outbreak of violence was sparked by the death of senior Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan, who died in Israeli custody earlier this month after an 86-day hunger strike. On Tuesday, the militant group launched a massive rocket barrage at Israel, which responded with air strikes. The Gaza militants have launched a total of 620 rockets at Israel since Wednesday, according to AFP.
The outbreak of violence has become the worst since a brief escalation last August that saw 49 Palestinians killed, with no deaths in Israel.