Hamas leader in Cairo to meet security officials

Senior Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar heads delegation to Cairo for talks with Egyptian security officials.

Elad Benari ,

Yihya Sinwar
Yihya Sinwar

Senior Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar has traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian security officials, a Hamas official said Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

The official said Sinwar was heading a delegation to Egypt, which has had tense relations with Hamas in recent years.

It is the first visit by a Hamas delegation to neighboring Egypt since January.

The delegation left from the Rafah border crossing, which was opened Sunday for the group to cross. The border is mostly closed for the two million residents of Gaza.

The Hamas official quoted by AP said the talks would focus on relations with Egypt, the difficult living conditions in Gaza and Palestinian political issues. He spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamas has not yet announced the visit.

Hamas enjoyed good relations with former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, relations have been tense under current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who has cracked down on the underground tunnels between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, which terrorists use to smuggle terrorists and weapons from Egypt into the coastal enclave.

In an attempt to improve strained ties, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recently met in Cairo with Egyptian officials to discuss ways to improve the strained relations.

Haniyeh later claimed that Hamas had opened “a new page” in its relations with Egypt, adding that the group is interested in maintaining close contacts with Egypt and intends to remove all causes of concern for the Egyptian leadership, especially in the field of security.

Sinwar, who headed the latest delegation, is among the founders of Hamas's so-called “military wing”, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Sinwar was held in Israeli jail for more than 20 years until 2011, when he was released along with more than 1,000 other terrorists in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

He was elected as Hamas's new leader in Gaza in February of this year.