Egyptian security officials said set to arrive in Gaza to meet Hamas leaders
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An Egyptian security delegation is set to arrive in the Gaza Strip imminently to meet Hamas leaders and discuss efforts to maintain calm in and around the coastal enclave, Palestinian and Israeli news outlets reported on Thursday.
The security delegation will be led by Ahmed Abdelkhaliq, the official in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services responsible for Palestinian affairs, the reports said.
However, it was not clear if the security delegation would arrive on Thursday or Friday.
A number of Palestinian news sites reported that Abdelkhaliq would cross into Gaza on Thursday, citing anonymous sources.
Meanwhile, at least two Israeli news outlets, the Ynet news site and Army Radio, reported that Abdelkhaliq would arrive in the coastal enclave on Friday, without citing sources.
For the past several months, Egypt, United Nations special coordinator to the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov and Qatar have worked to preserve calm in Gaza and prevent flareups between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.
Last week, tensions between Israel and terror groups in Gaza rose after a Palestinian sniper opened fire on a group of IDF soldiers. The bullet hit the helmet of an officer, lightly injuring him, the army said at the time.
The IDF added that in response to the incident, it struck an observation post belonging to Hamas in eastern Gaza, near the Bureij refugee camp. The terror group’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said one of its members was killed in the strike.
Palestinians in Gaza were expected to attend a protest in the border region between Israel and Egypt on Friday following afternoon prayers.
Since March 30, weekly protests, includin gviolence, have taken place in the border region.
Their organizers have said the protests aim to achieve the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now part of Israel, and pressure the Jewish state to lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.
Israeli officials hold that the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would destroy Israel’s Jewish character. They also maintain that the restrictions on movement are in place to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from smuggling weapons into the Strip.
Hamas, which violently seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, is a terror group that seeks to destroy Israel.
Israeli security officials have repeatedly called on Palestinians in Gaza to stay away from the border fence between Israel and the coastal enclave.