Hamas military commanders invited to Cairo for prisoner swap talks
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Hamas military commanders invited to Cairo for prisoner swap talks

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Senior members of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, are expected to arrive in Cairo soon for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on a possible prisoner exchange agreement with Israel.

Egyptian sources said that Marwan Isaa, who is described as the “chief of staff” of Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, will participate in the discussions, according to the New Arab online newspaper.

According to the sources, Israeli security officials are also scheduled to arrive in Cairo to discuss the prisoner exchange issue.

Hamas has held two mentally ill Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, in captivity since 2014 and 2015, respectively, in addition to the bodies of two soldiers – Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – since 2014.

Earlier, a Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptians to discuss ways of maintaining the recent ceasefire with Israel and the prisoner swap issue.

In addition to Haniyeh, the delegation consists of Musa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Nazzal, Rouhi Mushtaha, Izzat al-Risheq, Hussam Badran, and Zaher Jabareen.

The Hamas leaders are also expected to hold talks with representatives of various Palestinian factions, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.

The Fatah delegation to the talks will be headed by Jibril Rajoub, secretary-general of the faction, who in the past reached an agreement with Hamas on holding new general elections.

The meetings of the Palestinian factions, under the auspices of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, are schedule to begin early next week.

The factions will again discuss ways of ending the Fatah-Hamas rift, holding new elections for the PA presidency and parliament and the PLO’s Palestinian National Council, the formation of a Palestinian unity government and efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of last month’s fighting between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist groups.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that his group was interested in strengthening its relations with Egypt. He said that the Hamas leaders who are currently visiting Cairo will discuss “ways of preventing the occupation’s assaults and provocations” against the Palestinians, as well as Egypt’s role in the reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip and achieving Palestinian unity.

“Hamas will not allow anyone to blackmail our people regarding the reconstruction,” Qassem said. “We will not link the reconstruction to any other issues, such as a prisoner exchange agreement.”

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