Egypt Mediating to Ease Gaza Flare up after Israeli Strike Kills Jihad Commander

Egyptian officials said Cairo is attempting to de-escalate tensions between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza amid the worst bout of fighting there in recent months.

The officials said Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the US and the European Union, reported The Associated Press.

Egypt often acts as a mediator between Israel and Gaza factions, and brokered a ceasefire deal in May.

That deal appeared threatened Tuesday after a pre-dawn Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata.

Syrian state media said a separate missile attack had hit the home of a Jihad official in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons.

Syria said Israel carried out the Damascus strike. Israel did not comment.

Factions in Gaza have responded with rockets fired into Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv. The Israeli military has carried out a number of airstrikes in Gaza.

Jordan’s foreign ministry condemned the strike that killed Ata.

In a statement Tuesday, Daifallah al-Fayez, a spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, blamed Israel for the ensuing escalation in violence.

He said the fighting “will only increase tension and violence, deepen the environment of despair and promote extremist agendas in the region.”

He called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations, saying that talks, along with an end to the Israeli blockade on the territory, could bring a solution to Gaza’s woes.