Qandil (pictured) is to meet Hamas premier Ismail Haniya
Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil gestures as he gives a press conference on August 8, 2012 in Cairo. Qandil will visit the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel presses a major air campaign against the territory, the ruling Hamas government said on Thursday. © Gianluigi Guercia - AFP/File
Qandil (pictured) is to meet Hamas premier Ismail Haniya
AFP
Last updated: November 15, 2012

Egypt's prime minister to visit Gaza amid escalating tensions

Egypt's prime minister will visit Gaza on Friday to express his country's solidarity with the Hamas-ruled strip as Israel presses a major air campaign against it, the president's spokesman said.

Hisham Qandil "will travel to Gaza to express our support for the Palestinian people and to see what they need," President Mohamed Morsi's spokesman, Yasser Ali, told state television.

The premier will be accompanied by a number of Morsi's aides, as well as by Health Minister Mohamed Mustafa Hamed, Ali said.

Earlier, Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu announced the visit and said "we welcome this visit and appreciate this courageous stand."

The visit "confirms the support of the Egyptian leadership, government, and people for the Palestinian people in the shadow of the Israeli war against them in Gaza," he added, saying Qandil would meet Hamas premier Ismail Haniya.

Israel's massive air campaign, which began with the targeted killing of top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari on Wednesday, sparked a furious response from Islamist Morsi, who promptly recalled Cairo's envoy to the Jewish state.

On Thursday, Morsi -- who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood movement that gave birth to Hamas -- warned that Egypt would not accept Israel's "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.

"The Israelis must understand that we do not accept this aggression, which could lead to instability in the region," Morsi said in televised remarks, as Israeli air forces pummelled Gaza and militants fired rockets back in a deadly tit-for-tat confrontation.

"Shortly before dawn, I called President Obama and we discussed the need to put an end to this aggression and to ensure it does not happen again," he said.

"We discussed ways to promote calm and to stop these acts... and to achieve peace and security."

"I explained Egypt's role, Egypt's position, that we have relations with the United States and the world, but at the same time we totally reject this aggression."

On Wednesday, Morsi also ordered the foreign ministry to summon the Israeli envoy over the attacks, and called for an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, which is slated to be held in Cairo on Saturday.

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