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Egypt has informed Israel that it would not object to a limited Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, the London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.

The paper claimed that Egyptian Intelligence chief, Omar Suleimanm, met last week with Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-security department, and rejected Gilad's request that Cairo use its influence to persuade Hamas to extend a truce with Israel that expired last Friday.

At the same time, the paper said, Suleiman told Gilad that Egypt would not object to a limited Israeli operation in Gaza aimed at toppling the Hamas government.

According to the report, which has yet to be confirmed by any other source, Cairo is furious with Hamas for having torpedoed Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks between the Islamic movement and the rival Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, last month. The paper said that Suleiman accused "Meshal's gang" - a reference to the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal - of behaving arrogantly toward Egypt, and added that there was no choice but "to educate the Hamas leadership - even in Damascus."

The report sparked outraged reactions in Hamas, and the movement's Al-Aqsa television station interviewed several senior Hamas officials who lambasted Egyptian policy.

"Despite the Israeli escalation, there are Arab parties that are interested in a continuation of the siege and the aggression against Gaza," charged one, Sami Abu Zuhri.