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Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders head to Egypt for Gaza talks

May 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Al-Sinwar in Gaza city on 18 October 2017 [Atia Darwish/Apaimages]

Senior delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad yesterday headed to the Egyptian capital Cairo via the Rafah border crossing to meet with officials to discuss the “truce” in the occupied Gaza Strip.

The delegation, led by Hamas leader Yahya Al-Sinwar, is expected to meet with Egyptian officials “to discuss Hamas-Egypt relations, means of alleviating the suffering of the Gaza people, and other issues of common concern,” according to a statement by Hamas.

“This visit comes at the invitation of Egyptian intelligence minister Abbas Kamel,” the statement read.

A Palestinian source told Al-Jazeera that the delegation would discuss “the delays by Israel in implementing the internationally-brokered ceasefire in Gaza.”

On his part, the Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General, Ziyad Al-Nakhaleh, said the visit would “discuss the understandings of a truce in Gaza”.

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Another Islamic Jihad leader told the Anadolu Agency that the delegations also planned to discuss a proposed Gaza-Israel truce and prospects for reconciliation between Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

The Palestinian visit comes amid mounting tension following a spate of Israeli air strikes on Hamas-affiliated positions in Gaza. On Wednesday, Israeli warplanes carried out two air strikes in Gaza.

Palestinian officials have repeatedly criticised what they described as “Israel’s procrastination in implementing the understandings of truce in Gaza.”

For several months, Egyptian, Qatari and UN delegations have been holding mediation talks between the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel to reach understandings aimed at easing the siege on Gazans.

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Since March 2018, more than 250 Palestinians have been killed and thousands were injured by the Israeli forces in the ongoing protests near the buffer zone.

Israel has tightened a 12-year siege on the enclave limiting money transfers, the work of NGOs and humanitarian organisations, and the availability of construction materials which has led to the shrinking of Gaza’s economy and a lack of jobs.