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Hamas: Egyptian PM to visit Gaza Friday

Nov. 15, 2012 7:05 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 16, 2012 7:44 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandeel will visit the embattled Gaza Strip on Friday, the spokesman of the Gaza government said on Thursday.

Israel broke an Egyptian-mediated truce on Wednesday when it assassinated a top Hamas military commander, launching an operation that has killed 15 Palestinians and injured 150 more.

Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu told Ma'an the Egyptian leadership had notified Hamas that Qandeel would accompany several ministers to Gaza on Friday.

Al-Nunu welcomed the visit and applauded Egypt's "brave" position towards the Israeli operation.

A security source told Reuters that Egypt's intelligence chief, General Mohamed Rafaat Shehata, would be among those visiting the strip. Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said the minister of health and some of President Mohammad Mursi's assistants would accompany the prime minister.

Mursi condemned Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as unacceptable on Thursday, in his harshest public criticism of Egypt's neighbor since taking office in June.

Mursi was propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent group of Gaza rulers Hamas.

The head of the Brotherhood, the country's most organized group, called for nationwide protests to support the people of Gaza. Demonstrations were also planned for Friday.

Dozens of youths protested in front of the Arab League headquarters in Cairo and burned Israeli flags, chanting: "We will not give in, no matter how much the brutality grows". Protesters in the port city of Alexandria also burned Israel flags.

In a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Mursi said he discussed "ways to reach calm and end the aggression".

He said he told Obama of "how keen we are (to maintain) relations with the United States but also our absolute rejection of this aggression and the spilling of blood and the blockade of Palestinians".

He said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had promised to relay his demand for an end to the violence to the Israelis.
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