TEL AVIV – Iran has been pressing jihadist groups in Gaza to continue firing rockets into Israel, Egyptian security officials told WND.

Egyptian intelligence officials have been mediating between Israel and Hamas in an attempt to restore calm on the Israel-Gaza border.

Egyptian officials involved in the talks say that Hamas has been trying to halt the rocket-fire coming from Iranian-sponsored Gazan groups, including Islamic Jihad.

The Egyptian officials say Hamas asked them to press Islamic Jihad to agree to a cease-fire. The sources complain that Iran has been pressuring Islamic Jihad to escalate the rocket attacks.

WND reported last December on Iran’s stepped-up financing and arming of Islamic Jihad and other Gazan groups to make up for the possible loss of Hamas as a proxy.

Citing Hamas sources, WND reported at the time that the jihadist group had been asked by the Egyptian military to stay out of any future confrontation between Israel and Iran. For the first time in recent years, Hamas, buoyed by major Muslim Brotherhood gains in the region, was considering distancing itself somewhat from Iran, the sources said.

Just last week, senior Hamas member Salah Bardawil said in a widely published interview that Hamas “will not do Iran’s bidding in any war with Israel and will not launch rockets at Israel at Tehran’s request.”

“If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war,” Bardawil was quoted as saying. “Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region. Our strategy is to defend our rights.”

The attack from Gaza continued today, with more than 40 rockets fired at Israel. Two of the rockets exploded near Gedera, just 24 miles south of Tel Aviv.

The violence began Friday when the Israel Air Force launched a strike in Gaza that killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi.

Qaisi was believed to be planning a large-scale imminent terror attack on Israel’s southern border.

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