April 4, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian official said on Sunday that Egypt was contacting Israel and Palestinian groups to prevent further military escalation in the Gaza Strip.

Voicing concern over possible Israeli military operation, Yasser Al-Wadia, head of Palestinian independents' group, said an Egyptian official had told him that Cairo was holding "intensive contacts with the highest Palestinian and Israeli levels" to prevent large-scale military hostilities.

Tensions in Gaza became high when two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinian militants were killed in clashes near Gaza- Israel border in southeast Gaza Strip.

Since then, Israel attacked several targets in Gaza, including open spaces, training camps and groves which it said militants used to produce or store rockets. The Israeli army said 20 rockets were fired from Gaza in March and one of them killed a Thai worker in a farm in the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Last night, Hamas, which controls Gaza, held a meeting with Palestinian factions to assess the situation. Khaled Al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, said it has been emphasized that Gaza groups can respond with rockets if Israel assassinated Palestinian fighters or sent troops to Gaza.

Hamas has maintained a shaky ceasefire with Israel since the end of its three-week military offensive in Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017