Egypt has notified Palestinian resistance movement Hamas that indirect talks with Israel on a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which were due to resume Monday, have been delayed, a spokesman for the Palestinian group said Sunday.
“The Egyptian authorities have notified us of the delay of the talks after Hamas’ delegation was unable to travel from Gaza to Egypt because of the closure of Rafah border crossing due to the security situation in Sinai,” spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Anadolu Agency.
Twenty-six Egyptian troops were killed and 28 others wounded on Friday in an attack on a military checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, prompting Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to declare a state of emergency for three months in the northeastern peninsula as well as a nighttime curfew.
The Egyptian authorities have also closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai until a further notice.
Barhoum said that his movement “understands” the reason behind the delay and noted that Egypt is yet to unveil a new date for the resumption of the talks.
No Egyptian official was available for immediate comment on Barhoum’s assertion.
Earlier in the day, a number of Palestinian negotiators arrived in Cairo from the West Bank to join the talks.
The Palestinians and the Israelis agreed on September 23 to maintain a Gaza cease-fire they reached in Cairo on August 26.
The new round of talks between the two sides is expected to dwell on the Palestinians’ demand for increasing fishing space off the coast of Gaza; establishing an airport and a deep seaport in Gazaand swapping the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip with the bodies of Palestinians in line with an Egypt-proposed agenda for the negotiations.
During its 51-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel killed around 2,160 Palestinians, injured more than 11,000 others and destroyed thousands of homes and facilities.
At least 73 Israelis – 68 soldiers and five civilians – were also killed in the offensive, according to Israeli figures.