Haniyeh's Sisters Banned from Son's Wedding

As part of policy placing pressure on Hamas to free captive Israelis, IDF denies entry to Gaza for relatives of Hamas leader.

Yedidyah Ben-Or,

Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh
Wissam Nassar/Flash 90

Israel has refused to allow three sisters of Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to enter Gaza for his son's wedding.

The three sisters currently live in Bedouin settlements in Israel's Negev desert, having married Israeli-Arabs.

General Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), explained the decision by noting that "there are humanitarian cases in Gaza as well," referring to the fact that Hamas is currently holding two Israeli citizens hostage - Avraham Mengistu and a Bedouin Arab who has not been named.

It appears to be part of a wider policy to place pressure on Hamas, which has not provided any signs of life or allowed humanitarian organizations access to the two captive Israeli civilians - despite the fact that Mengistu is suffering from mental illness.

Earlier Thursday, it was revealed that a senior Hamas official in Gaza was refused permission to travel via Israel to Turkey for medical treatment, with COGAT officials giving precisely the same reason.

In other developments, Arabic media outlets have been reporting that Haniyeh is seeking permission from Egyptian authorities to enter that country on his way to Qatar and Turkey, where he is scheduled to take part in talks concerning the ongoing ceasefire with Israel.

Turkish sources have in recent days claimed that significant process has been made in negotiations for a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel. The sources - which have not been confirmed by either Hamas or Israel - claim that the truce under discussion could last for as long as 5-10 years.