Hamas Chief, Ismail Haniyeh - Said Khatib / AFP Hamas Chief, Ismail Haniyeh - Said Khatib / AFP

Hamas’s chief in Cairo for talks amid military operation

Fri, Feb. 9, 2018
A high-level Hamas delegation led by the political bureau chief Ismail Hanya arrived in Cairo on Friday to discuss the implementation process of the Palestinian reconciliation with Egyptian officials. Hamas’ visit comes amid a massive security operation “

Sinai 2018

” launched by Egypt’s army and police forces to purge the country from terrorism.

According to Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum, the delegation includes Hamas Political Bureau members Khalil al-Hayya, Rawhi Mushtaha and Fathi Hammad. Despite the sudden departure of the delegation from the Gaza strip, Barhoum explained that the delegation will hold talks with Egyptian officials to boost the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement which was signed in Cairo in 2017, and bilateral relations and efforts to ease the Gaza Strip’s dire humanitarian situation. Hamas’ statement described Gaza as “on the edge of the abyss”.

Barhoum added in a statement in Gaza on Friday that the visit also comes as part of Hamas’ efforts “to safeguard the Palestinian cause in light of the recent U.S. decision on Jerusalem, to recognize the city as Israel’s capital and Israel’s ongoing policy of settlement expansion”.

Photo 1 Barhoum
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum (C) is carried by Palestinians as they celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel following a ceasefire in Gaza City August 26, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Under Egypt’s auspices, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a new

conciliation agreement

in Cairo in October 2017. However, the recommendations of that agreement have not been implemented yet.

On Wednesday, Egypt announced the opening of the

Rafah Crossing

in both directions for three days. Rafah is the only passengers’ border connecting to the Gaza Strip through Egypt. On several occasions, Egypt said that a permanent opening of the border is dependent on the security situation on the Egyptian side, where they have been battling an increasingly violent Islamist insurgency.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo said in a statement that it “extended gratitude to President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi for his care to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

Photo 2
An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Also on Wednesday, famed TV presenter Amr Adeeb said during his program on “ONTV Live” that Egyptian security forces thwarted a plot to assassinate Ismail Hanya by an Islamic State cell made up of 18 terrorists who were trying to sneak into Gaza.

On January 31, 2018, Hanya was included on the U.S. State Department global terrorist blacklist. The current Hamas political chief was born in 1962; he formerly held the position of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) prime minister after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006. In May 2017, Hanya was elected as Hamas political chief in replacement of Khaled Meshaal.

Photo 3 Kahled
Hamas former leader Khaled Meshaal - REUTERS

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