by: Elior Levy
Thursday, 10 June 2021 | A delegation of senior members of the Hamas military wing arrived in Cairo on Wednesday as part of negotiations on a possible prisoner swap between Israel and the terror group that rules Gaza.
The delegation included Marwan Issa, the deputy leader of the military wing, said the UK-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.
The negotiations are centered on the return of the remains of two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and two Israeli civilians believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.
Representatives of the political wing of Hamas arrived in Cairo several days ago for talks with the rival Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] faction and to discuss the possible prisoner swap through the Egyptian mediation.
An Israeli security delegation was also in Cairo, with the Israelis and Palestinians in separate rooms and Egyptian mediators moving between them.
The same method of indirect negotiations was used in talks that led to the return of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 after five years in Hamas custody, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel.
Israel is maintaining its position that the release of the Israelis is a prerequisite to any cease-fire agreement in the wake of the 11-day military conflict with Gaza in May.
More than 250 Palestinians [most of them terrorists] and 13 Israelis were killed in the bitter 11-day conflict, which saw thousands of rockets fired at Israeli communities and hundreds of IDF strikes on terror targets in the Strip.
A senior Israeli official said last week that the chances of a prisoner swap were improving and that Israel was expecting a proposal to be delivered by Egypt.
“The Egyptians understand that without a resolution of the question of MIAs and the Israeli civilians held by Hamas, there will be no widespread reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the damage caused by Israeli strikes during the May fighting,” the official said.
The official said the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi was determined to reach a deal and that Jerusalem believed Cairo would put pressure on Hamas to make concessions in order to advance reconstruction of the Strip with the support of the international community.
Posted on June 10, 2021
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