IAF airstrike in Gaza
IAF airstrike in GazaFlash 90

As Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza on Thursday, Egypt blamed Hamas - but also Israel - for the latest escalation and for the deaths of civilians.

According to Kol Yisrael radio, the Egyptian government said it was placing the responsibility on Hamas for “the possible deaths of Palestinian civilians”, citing Hamas’s refusal to accept Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire.

The report quoted Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, as having said that had Hamas accepted the ceasefire proposal, it would have saved the lives of at least 40 Gazans who were killed in Israeli airstrikes.

Shoukry further said that Hamas was cooperating with Qatar and Turkey to harm Egypt’s status in the region.

In a statement quoted by the AFP news agency, however, Egypt's foreign ministry also denounced Israel's "escalation" in Gaza and again demanded both sides accept a Cairo proposed truce.

"Egypt condemns the Israeli escalation in Gaza and calls for self-control as its air strikes and ground operation only aggravate the situation and do not help preserve Israel's security," the foreign ministry said.

It said both Israel and Hamas must "immediately and unconditionally accept the Egyptian (ceasefire) proposal as it offers protection to the Palestinian people. It is the only way to halt the aggression and preserve the blood of our brotherly Palestinian people."

Shoukry’s comments on Hamas echo those made earlier by Egypt’s former Foreign Minister, Mohammed Al-Arabi, who said that Hamas was not serious about a ceasefire – and that the terror group was deliberately trying to embarrass Egypt.

Speaking in an interview in an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Arabi blamed Hamas for not only failing to come to a ceasefire, but for “shedding the blood of innocent Palestinians” by continuing to attack Israel.

Israel launched a ground attack on Gaza Thursday night, as large forces from the IDF's infantry, armor, artillery, engineering and intelligence corps began operating in several zones within Gaza.

The zones are in Gaza's northern, central and southern sections. The Diplomacy and Security Cabinet has authorized the IDF to widen the operation further at its discretion.