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Egyptian security delegation visits Gaza to promote a ceasefire

Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (R) meets Head of Palestinian File of Egypt's Intelligent Service Major General Ahmed Abdel Khalek (L) in Gaza City, Gaza on 5 March 2019. [Ismail Haniyeh's Press Office / Handout - Anadolu Agency]
Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (R) meets Head of Palestinian File of Egypt's Intelligent Service Major General Ahmed Abdel Khalek (L) in Gaza City, Gaza on 5 March 2019 [Ismail Haniyeh's Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Egyptian intelligence officers arrived in the Gaza Strip yesterday to mediate a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Jewish News Syndicate has reported.

The delegation is led by Ahmed Abdel Khaliq, the head of the Palestinian bureau in the Egyptian General Intelligence Service.

The aim is to promote a ceasefire between the occupation state and the Islamic Resistance Movement following a statement by the Israel Defence Forces earlier in the day that, “[Israeli] aircraft and fighter jets targeted a number of Hamas terror targets in the southern Gaza Strip.”

A Hamas “training compound and military infrastructures” were among the targets, the IDF added.

The violence came just a couple of weeks after US President Donald Trump unveiled details of his “peace plan.” Following the air strikes, the Egyptian delegation delivered a message to Hamas from Israel that if resistance groups do not stop rocket attacks, Israel would deliver a tough blow to the movement.

Egypt warned that it will be a move that would have both US and international support.

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Hamas responded that it was not interested in any escalation, but that there would not be quiet on the nominal border so long as there are delays in reaching an understanding and implementing relief measures for the Palestinian population in the besieged territory.

Over the past year, Egyptian intelligence officials have played a major role in preventing war between Israel and Hamas and have won the trust of both sides.

The understandings have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza, in exchange for Hamas maintaining relative quiet in the border region, reported the Times of Israel.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened a harsh military response if the attacks from Gaza continued. “I want to make this clear: we won’t accept any aggression from Gaza. Just a few weeks ago, we took out the top commander of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and I suggest that Islamic Jihad and Hamas refresh their memories.”

Netanyahu was referring to the assassination of a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad Movement, Bahaa Abu El-Atta, in November. “I won’t lay out in detail all our actions and plans in the media,” he added, “but we’re prepared for crushing action against the terror groups in Gaza. Our actions are powerful, and they’re not finished yet, to put it mildly.”

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