Egypt Pressed Hamas to Release Captive Israeli Soldiers In Gaza

A report published by New Arab newspaper stated that Senior Egyptian intelligence officials pressed Hamas to restart its negotiations with Israel for releasing four Israeli captives in Gaza.

Last year, Hamas released a video through which its military wing confirmed that it is holding four Israeli soldiers in captivity: Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, in addition to Avraham Mengistu and a Bedouin Israeli soldier.

In fact, Hamas has long demanded that Israel should first release hundreds of Palestinians who were rearrested after they were freed under the Shalit swap in 2011 before it starts negotiations with Israel over a new swap.

Egypt has previously mediated in various deals between Israel and Hamas.The Egyptian security services mediated for the ceasefire of the Israeli wars on Gaza in 2008-9, in 2012, and in 2014.

In 2011, Egypt also mediated Shalit prisoner swap where German mediators and others failed.

Days ago, a security delegation from the besieged Gaza Strip went to Egypt via Rafah crossing to meet with Egyptian officials.

Sources said that Hamas’s security delegation that traveled to Cairo a few days ago was led by Major Tawfiq Abu Naim, the head of the Gaza Security Forces.

The visit comes within the framework of a follow-up on what was agreed on between Hamas’ Deputy Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh the Egyptian side during his last visit to Cairo.

Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on 23 January and held meetings with Egyptian political and security officials regarding the future relations between the country and the Palestinian movement.

Haniyeh told reporters when he arrived at Gaza Strip that Hamas’ relations with Egypt are witnessing positive shifts, the results of which will appear in the coming days.

He also explained that officials from both sides agreed on the continuation of joint meetings and consultations.

Hamas issued an official statement last Friday describing the delegation’s visit to Egypt as “successful” and “fruitful”.

The relations between Hamas and Egypt deteriorated following the military coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president in July 2013.