In a nearly unprecedented development, Egypt has refused a Hamas request to mediate a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip with Israel, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.

The officials told WND that the request was made by Hamas via Qatar. The Qataris passed a message to the Egyptian government on behalf of Hamas to ask Israel to halt its operations targeting the rocket infrastructure in Gaza.

The Egyptian refusal to broker a cease-fire is viewed in the Jewish state as the continuation of a contemptuous relationship between the Egypt and Hamas.

Earlier today, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization took responsibility for firing rockets from Gaza into the south of Israel.

The Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, however, said elements of Hamas were involved in the rocket attacks as well.

The officials said that a radical group within Hamas splintered from the Islamic organization and is now working with the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad together with the al-Qaida-inspired Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza.

The splinter Hamas element is not answering to the general Hamas leadership. Israel considers the splinter group particularly dangerous, because many of its 70 to 90 jihadists were trained by Iran and are challenging Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

According to the security officials, the Hamas-Islamic Jihad organizations behind the rocket attacks have been expecting help from Muslim radicals in the neighboring Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. But there are no signs of such help yet.

The officials said the general leadership of Hamas is trying to stop the rocket-fire immediately and has no interest in any escalation with the Jewish state.

The Jerusalem Post reported the Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad cell Tuesday in southern Gaza after identifying the terror group as the perpetrator of an attack on an IDF unit on the border.

The Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad rocket-launching cell earlier this month that was about to fire rockets at southern Israel from northern Gaza.

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