Egypt pushes for calm amid flareup in violence between Israel and Gaza

Egyptian officials on Sunday pushed for calm between Israel and Hamas and called to adhere to a ceasefire in place since the war in May.

The Egyptian efforts came a day after Hamas launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off central Israel, prompting Israel to carry out air strikes on militant positions in Gaza early on Sunday. No casualties were reported.

The Israeli military said it struck “a rocket manufacturing site and military posts” belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to Saturday’s rocket fire.

On December 29, Palestinian militants shot an Israeli contractor working along the border fence and Israel responded with tank fire at militant positions in what was the first exchange of fire in months.

Egyptian officials called on Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza to stop their actions seen by Israel as “provocative,” and for Israel to accelerate arrangements agreed upon as part of the ceasefire, an Egyptian diplomat with knowledge of the ongoing efforts said.

The ceasefire, brokered by Egypt and other mediators, has been fragile but largely held since the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel in May. But Hamas says Israel has not taken serious steps to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza.

At the same time, the Islamic Jihad militant group has threatened military action against Israel if a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner dies. Hisham Abu Hawash, an Islamic Jihad member held by Israel under administrative detention, has staged a hunger strike for over 130 days.

Israel’s controversial policy of administrative detention allows suspects to be held without charge indefinitely. Israel says the practice is necessary to keep dangerous suspects in custody without disclosing critical intelligence that could expose sources. Palestinians and rights groups decry the policy as a violation of due process.