Gantz Says Israel-Egypt Diplomatic Crisis Is Due to Gaza Flare-up: 'I Hope It Will Blow Over Soon'

Tensions arose after Israel refused to rein in IDF operations in the West Bank as part of the cease-fire following Operation Breaking Dawn. Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar flew to Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials with the aim of stabilizing relations between the countries

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Ganz at Southern Command headquarters at the start of Operation Breaking Dawn, earlier this month.
Ganz at Southern Command headquarters at the start of Operation Breaking Dawn, earlier this month.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed on Monday that a diplomatic crisis erupted in recent days between Israel and Egypt over the fighting with Gaza earlier this month.

“I definitely think there have been days of tensions stemming from the end of Operation Breaking Dawn,” Gantz said about simmering tensions with Egypt in an interview on the Kan Bet radio station.

“Relations between friends have up and downs … without going into some specific incident or another, we will know how to stabilize the relations. It is their interest and ours. We don’t need to take every crisis and turn into the single most important thing. I hope it will blow over in the next few days,” said Gantz.

As Haaretz reported over the weekend, the diplomatic tensions started after Israel refused to rein in IDF operations in the West Bank in early August, as part of the understandings for the cease-fire to end Israel's fighting with Islamic Jihad.

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar flew to Cairo on Sunday for talks with senior officials there aimed at stemming the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Egypt. Bar is scheduled to meet with Egyptian intelligence head Gen. Abbas Kamel, who recently canceled a scheduled trip to Israel to protest Israel’s actions following Operation Breaking Dawn in Gaza.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Berlin, this month.Credit: Markus Schreiber/AP

Egypt, whose mediation brought about the ceasefire following Israel's three-day bombardment of the Strip, is angry at Israel's handling of the operation, believing that it hadn’t given enough opportunities to reach a diplomatic solution.

Tensions peaked the day after the operation ended. Prime Minister Yair Lapid was speaking by phone to President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who, according to Egyptian sources, asked that Lapid restrain IDF operations in the West Bank, fearing military raids would lead to a flare-up in the Palestinian territories.

However, the Prime Minister’s Bureau did not properly brief the defense establishment about the call. The following morning, the IDF staged an operation to detain Ibrahim al-Nabulsi in Nablus. Nabulsi and two other Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire with IDF troops and undercover officers, and dozens were injured.

This incident compounded Egypt's anger at Israel, which stemmed from Israel's operations in the days preceding Breaking Dawn, and its actions during the operation itself. This included the decision to kill the commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip at a time when Egypt was trying to calm things down and institute a cease-fire.

Egypt's fury over these actions led Gen. Abbas Kamel to cancel his visit to Israel, in which he had been scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Gantz.

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