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Egypt asks US to stop Israel's Gaza offensive

CAIRO — Egypt asked the United States to push Israel to stop its offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, warning that the violence could "escalate out of control," the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton late the night before, asking for "immediate U.S. intervention to stop the Israeli aggression," the ministry said in a statement. The call came after Egypt recalled its ambassador to Israel to protest the offensive.

Israel barraged the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and shelling Wednesday and killed the Hamas military chief in a targeted strike, launching a campaign aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Islamic militants. The assault killed 10 other Palestinians, including two children and seven militants. On Thursday, militant rockets fired into Israel killed three Israelis, raising the likelihood of a further escalation.

Amr told Clinton that if Israel's offensive does not stop, "matters will escalate out of control" and asked the U.S. "to use what contacts it has with Israel."

President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke with Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing his support for Israel's right to self-defense and saying Hamas rocket fire must end.

Speaking Thursday in Cairo, Morsi said he told Obama that Israel's offensive must stop and should not be repeated. "We agreed that Egypt and the United States will work together to prevent any escalation or the continuation of the aggression," a presidential statement quoted Morsi as saying.

Morsi, who came to office in June, hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful political group. Hamas is in effect the Brotherhood's Palestinian chapter.

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