The IAF refrained from mounting strikes in Gaza overnight, but the Strip's terror groups failed to afford Israel the same courtesy - Gaza relentless rocket fire at western Negev communities, southern cities continues. Iron Dome intercepts several rockets over Beersheba, Ashkelon, but rocket still hits Beersheba gym causing massive damage; IDF gears for escalation
Egypt: Israeli apology 'insufficient' - Egyptian cabinet says statement expressing regret for the border deaths of five policemen 'was positive on the surface but it was not in keeping with the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions.' Israeli envoy summoned for reprimand
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also expressed his anger in a message on his Facebook page. "Egyptian blood is too precious to be spilled for no reason," wrote Sharaf. "Our glorious revolution took place so that Egyptians could regain their dignity at home and abroad. What was tolerated in pre-revolution Egypt will not be in post-revolution Egypt,".
A top Israeli defense official stressed meanwhile that peace with Egypt "is a strategic asset" and it would be unthinkable for Israeli personnel to target their Egyptian counterparts.
"no soldier would consciously aim his weapon at Egyptian soldiers or policemen."
Ynet reportersLatest Update: 08.21.11
The IAF refrained from mounting strikes in Gaza overnight, but the Strip's terror groups failed to afford Israel the same courtesy, firing rockets on western Negev communities relentlessly throughout the night and into Sunday morning. Several rockets were fired at Beersheba on Sunday morning: One of the rockets hit a school gym, causing severe damage to the building, which luckily was empty at the time. Large police and emergency services teams are at the scene. The Iron Dome defense system deployed near the city was able to intercept one Grad rocket fired in its direction; while another is believed to have landed in on the city's outskirts.
Shortly beforehand, the Iron Dome battery deployed near Ashkelon intercepted three Grads fired at the city from northern gaza. The Color Red alert sounded across the greater Beersheba and Ashkelon areas shortly before Iron Dome was engaged.
Around 6:30 am three Qassam rockets exploded in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon Regional council. Seven mortar shells landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council just moments prior. No injuries or damage were reported in either incident. Saturday's rocket fire on southern Israel was one of the worst to follow Operation Cast Lead, leaving one man dead and dozens injured.
The defense establishment is gearing for a possible escalation in the southern sector, as well as for the possibility that the IDF would have to mount a more powerful response against Hamasand the other terror organizations in Gaza.
Defense establishment officials expressed concern that rocket attacks from Gaza will intensify on Sunday, and possibly throughout the week; ordering the National Emergency Management Authority storage facilities be opened in the morning.
Egypt: Israeli apology 'insufficient'-
Egypt's cabinet says that an Israeli statement expressing regret for the border deaths of five policemen is not enough. But it stopped short of saying if it would recall its Tel Aviv envoy.
"The Israeli statement was positive on the surface but it was not in keeping with the magnitude of the incident and the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions," the official MENA quoted a cabinet statement as saying on Sunday.
MENA said the cabinet insisted on a timetable for an Israeli offer of a joint investigation into the deaths on Thursday as Israeli troops pursued militants who carried out attacks earlier in the Negev that killed eight. "Egypt affirms its solicitude for maintaining peace with Israel but Israel must also assume responsibility for protecting this peace," it said. Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. But Israel remains deeply unpopular in the most populous Arab state and there have been growing calls for the treaty's revision since a February revolt overthrew president Hosni Mubarak, seen as a close ally of Israel. Thousand of Egyptians protested late on Saturday outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, housed in the top floor of a high rise building, aiming hundreds of fireworks at its flag in the hope of burning it, MENA reported. On Saturday afternoon, the foreign ministry summoned Israel's charge d'affaires for a reprimand. The envoy, who was summoned because the ambassador was outside the country, read out a statement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressing regret for the deaths and offering a joint probe, Egypt's foreign ministry said. Egyptian state television had reported earlier in the day that Egypt would recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv but Israel said it received no notification of the decision. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that "at no time has Israel been officially notified of a recall of the Egyptian ambassador." 'Our blood is too precious to be spilled'Egyptian officials privately said discussions on the matter were still underway and that no decision had been reached yet. One official said Egypt would not recall its envoy. After conflicting reports, Information Minister Osama Heykal was quoted by MENA as saying five policemen were killed "inside Egyptian territory as a result of an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and armed elements inside Israeli territory." Israeli officials accused Palestinian militants in Gaza, which also borders Egypt, of planning the attack and carrying it out after slipping into the Negev desert from Egyptian territory. Egypt has denied the gunmen used its territory and bristled at suggestions that it had lost control of the Sinai peninsula, where its military has been conducting a week long operation to root out Islamist militants. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also expressed his anger in a message on his Facebook page. "Egyptian blood is too precious to be spilled for no reason," wrote Sharaf. "Our glorious revolution took place so that Egyptians could regain their dignity at home and abroad. What was tolerated in pre-revolution Egypt will not be in post-revolution Egypt," he said. If Egypt recalls its envoy, it would be the second time since the two neighbors made peace. In November 2000 Egypt did so to protest an Israeli crackdown on a Palestinian uprising. Following Mubarak's overthrow, some in Israel expressed fears that the government that followed him would listen to public calls and downgrade relations with the Jewish State. Egypt's military, which took charge after Mubarak's ouster, pledged to honor the treaty. Barak insisted in his statement that the peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel was "strategic and highly important for stability in the Middle East."
A top Israeli defense official stressed meanwhile that peace with Egypt "is a strategic asset" and it would be unthinkable for Israeli personnel to target their Egyptian counterparts. Amos Gilad, head of the defense ministry political department, told Israeli public radio "no soldier would consciously aim his weapon at Egyptian soldiers or policemen."
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