Egypt reached out to Israel over tensions: FM

Egypt reached out to Israel over tensions to no avail: FM
3 min read
The Arab League has called for the ICC to include the latest attempts to evict Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem in an ongoing war crimes probe.
At least 28 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip [Getty]
Egypt reached out to Israel to calm tensions in Jerusalem but was met with indifference, its top diplomat told an emergency Arab League meeting on Tuesday on the crisis.

At least 28 Palestinians, including ten children, have been killed by Israeli bombing since Monday evening, when Hamas militants launched rockets towards Jerusalem and other cities in response to attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Two Israeli women were killed on Tuesday by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The international community has called for calm, while Muslim-majority countries have voiced outrage amid the worst flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence in years.

"In the last few days, Egypt extensively reached out to Israel and other concerned countries urging them to exert all possible efforts to prevent the deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

"But we did not get the necessary response," he told the meeting of the Arab League via videoconference.

While not specifying the other countries Egypt contacted, he condemned "Israeli violations at the walls of Al-Aqsa Mosque which crossed over into Sheikh Jarrah" in occupied east Jerusalem.

In a closing statement, the League's foreign ministers urged the International Criminal Court to "press ahead" with its probe of "war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel against the Palestinian people".

They also called for the latest "forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah" in east Jerusalem to be included in an investigation by the Hague-based tribunal.

Israel has refused to sign up to the court, set up in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes. The Palestinians have been a state party to the ICC since 2015.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit also lambasted Israeli violence directed towards Palestinians in east Jerusalem in the meeting's opening remarks.

"Israel wants to convince the world that what happened in Sheikh Jarrah is a real-estate dispute over some homes, as if we don't have a memory," he said.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967, and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move widely seen as illegal under international law. Today those territories are home to at least five million Palestinians defined by the United Nations as living under Israeli occupation.

He described the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as being "completely beholden to the hardened agenda of settlers and extremist religious parties in Israel".

Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that Israel would "intensify the power" of its attacks on Hamas after two Israeli women were killed by rockets.

Israeli warplanes bombed a 12-story building in Gaza City, one of the besieged coastal strip's highest, on Tuesday evening. 

The Israeli military said the Hanadi Tower was home to the offices of top Hamas officials. Initial reports indicate the building contained both offices and residences.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

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