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Israel-Gaza fighting subsides after Egyptian intervention : Militants stop firing rockets and mortars and Israel ceases air strikes after two days of escalating violence
Associated Press
The Gurdian
25 October 2012

A deadly flare-up in fighting between Israel and Gaza`s militant Hamas group has subsided after Egypt helped to restore calm before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

On Tuesday night Israel responded to rocket fire from Gaza with air strikes. On Wednesday militants fired 80 rockets and mortars at southern Israel, and Israeli aircraft struck Gaza four times. In all, four Palestinians including three militants were killed in the fighting and two foreign workers in Israel were critically wounded.

The rocket and mortar fire stopped altogether overnight, though one projectile landed in southern Israel on Thursday morning, causing no damage. The military said it last struck Gaza on Wednesday morning. Eid al-Adha begins on Friday.

Both sides confirmed Egyptian involvement in ending the fighting. Amos Gilad, an Israeli defence official told Army Radio that Egyptian security forces had `a very impressive ability` to convey to the militants that it was in their `supreme interest not to attack`.

Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, said Egypt had conveyed Israel`s desire to contain the violence. `We said we`ll abide by the calm if the occupation abides,` he said. `It happened over the phone with Egyptian intelligence.`

Egypt under Hosni Mubarak played an important role in halting multiple outbreaks of hostilities between Israel and Gaza militants. The new government of Mohamed Morsi, who belongs to Hamas`s parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has kept up the tradition.

Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, has largely avoided attacks since an Israeli military offensive nearly four years ago. It remains virulently anti-Israel but has sought to keep things quiet as it consolidates control of Gaza, which it overran five years ago. Still, it is under pressure from smaller groups to prove that it remains in confrontation with the Jewish state.

The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, suggested that the visit of Qatar`s leader to Gaza on Tuesday, the first by a head of state to the territory since it came under Hamas rule, had emboldened Hamas to clash this week with Israel.

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