Egypt’s FM Pledged to Help in Returning the Israeli Soldiers Held By Hamas

During his visit to Israel, the Egyptian foreign minister reportedly agreed to help in efforts to return two Israelis held captive by Hamas in Gaza, as well as the bodies of two soldiers held in Gaza since they died in the 2014 war .

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Jerusalem, where the two men discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and regional developments.

Netanyahu asked Cairo to help in returning the Israelis held in Gaza to Israel and Shoukry responded affirmatively.

Avraham Abera Mengistu wandered into the Strip in 2014. Hisham al-Sayid walked into Gaza in April 2015. Hisham al-Sayid, who wandered into Gaza in April 2015 and has been missing and believed held by Hamas ever since.

In the same context, Hamas has said it will only return the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul in exchange for Palestinian prisoners’ release.

Hamas official Ismail Radwan, speaking in front of the Red Cross headquarters in the Gaza Strip, said the group would not negotiate the release of Israelis until all of the “Shalit prisoners” are freed, the Palestinian news site Quds Press reported.

In 2011, Hamas released the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian detainees. Israel rearrested some of those released in the deal in the summer of 2014 .

Some reports prior to Shoukry’s visit suggested that the visit was linked to the recent agreement between Israel and Turkey, which ended a 5-year-long diplomatic standoff with Ankara.

Under the terms of the new deal, Israel agreed to ease its blockade of Gaza and allow Turkish aid into the Strip.

Egypt also maintains a blockade on its border with Gaza and accuses Hamas of aiding Sinai Province an Islamic State-affiliated group in the Sinai Peninsula that has been launching massive attacks against Egyptian security forces.

Israeli analysts have speculated that Shoukry’s visit to Israel, the first by an Egyptian foreign minister in nine years, could be a sign of Cairo’s concern that Israel may loosen the stranglehold on Gaza strip and Hamas.