Egypt pressured Israel to disrupt a plan to assassinate Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh last week after Palestinian militants killed eight Israelis near the Red Sea resort of Eilat, the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday.
The newspaper reported that Egyptian officials swiftly moved to calm the situation by pressing the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza to declare a ceasefire and convince Israel to shelve the assassination plan. Egypt also applied pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip to force other armed groups, mainly the Popular Resistance Committees, to stop rocket attacks on Israel.
Last week gunmen Israel said were from Gaza staged a coordinated series of attacks on a desert road near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, killing eight Israelis.
The Israeli air force hit back, striking targets across the Gaza Strip. Seven Palestinians, at least four of them senior Gaza fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees, the group Israel accused of starting the bloodshed, were killed in the attacks.
The group was involved in the capture of an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who has been held captive in Gaza for more than five years.
The group immediately vowed to exact a bitter revenge “against everything and everyone” for the killing of its leader and other senior officials.
An Egyptian police officer and two conscripts were also killed when an Israeli plane fired a rocket near the border at militants it was tracking after the attacks near Eilat, Egyptian security officials said.
The attacks were the deadliest against Israelis since a gunman killed eight civilians in Jerusalem in 2008. They suggested that Egypt’s recent political upheaval and a resulting power vacuum in Sinai had allowed armed groups to open a new front against Israel on the long-quiet frontier, The Associated Press reported.