Egyptian Delegation Visits Gaza to Negotiate Hamas-Israel Prisoner Exchange

Egyptian defense officials, who also spent four hours in Israel, are said to be promoting the implementation of truce agreements

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Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks during his visit at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon September 6, 2020.
Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks during his visit at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, September 6, 2020.Credit: AZIZ TAHER/Reuters

An Egyptian delegation of defense officials paid a quick visit to the Gaza Strip Thursday in order to promote a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.

The delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip in the morning and stayed for about two hours, leaving through the Erez crossing to Israel, then returning to the Strip four hours later.

Sources in Hamas told Lebanese network Al Mayadeen that the deal in question involves humanitarian aid for Gaza in exchange for video documentation of at least some of the two Israeli civilians and bodies of two Israeli soldiers held in Gaza.

There are thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and according to Hamas sources, the first to be released as part of a comprehensive deal would be women, minors and the sick and elderly.  

Over the weekend, Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that the delegation was trying to advance an outline for a prisoner swap.

Haniyeh did not specify whether there was any progress made in the negotiations but told journalists that Hamas welcomes the Egyptian involvement.

Egypt has been involved in negotiating the exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel since as early as 2014, but there has been no real breakthrough. One of the issues that has stalled progress was Hamas' demand to release prisoners released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who were arrested again after 2014.

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip confirmed to Haaretz that in addition to a prisoner exchange deal, the Egyptians are trying to advance the implementation of the truce agreements with Israel and reconciliation with Palestinian factions in the West Bank.

There have been ongoing frictions between Hamas and Fatah since Hamas's electoral victory in 2007, which led to the de facto separation of the two territories. 

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