Cairo, Egypt: Officials from Israel and Egypt met in Cairo on Sunday to discuss bolstering the Cairo-brokered ceasefire that ended the latest deadly flare-up of hostilities between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
According to Netanyahu’s office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in Jerusalem to discuss “strengthening collaboration” between the two countries.
According to senior Egyptian security officials, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi tasked Kamel and his entourage, who were also scheduled to visit the occupied Palestinian Territories, with negotiating a durable ceasefire arrangement.
On the same day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi paid the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli top diplomat in 13 years, to meet with his Egyptian colleague Sameh Shoukry.
On his arrival, Ashkenazi tweeted that they will “discuss establishing a durable truce with Hamas, a system for distributing humanitarian supplies, and the restoration of Gaza with the international community playing a vital role.”
According to Egypt’s foreign ministry, the ministers’ meeting was “part of Egypt’s tireless and continuing efforts to restart the peace track and build on the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”
Senior Egyptian security officials said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will also be in Cairo for talks, but did not elaborate.
Egypt was instrumental in arranging the truce between Israel and Hamas on May 21, which ended 11 days of deadly warfare.
According to health officials, Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children.
Medics confirmed that rockets and other flames from Gaza killed 12 people in Israel, including one infant and an Arab-Israeli adolescent.
According to the statement, Netanyahu underlined Israel’s demand “for the speedy return” of Israelis detained in Gaza.
Israel is “totally committed” to repatriating Israeli captives detained by Hamas, according to Ashkenazi.
The bodies of Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin have been held by Hamas since Israel’s 2014 invasion of the Gaza Strip, however, the Islamist organization has never verified their deaths.
Hamas is also thought to be holding two Israeli citizens who entered Gaza on their own and whose families claim they are suffering from mental illness.
In the while, Israel holds around 5,000 Palestinians in its prisons.
Sisi has promised $500 million to aid in the restoration of Gaza’s densely populated enclave, which has been ravaged by Israeli bombardment.
Hamas has promised not to touch “a single cent” of international funding earmarked for Gaza’s reconstruction.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a land and maritime embargo on the enclave, accusing it of diverting international aid to military purposes.
Netanyahu and Kamel also addressed “mechanisms and processes to prevent the strengthening of Hamas and its use of the resources that will be directed to the civilian population in the future” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
Increased tensions in Jerusalem fueled the latest violent outburst, which saw Israeli security personnel repressing Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Analysts say the new escalation has served to unite the geographically dispersed Palestinian community in a level not seen in years, despite a severe division between Hamas and Fatah that has plagued Palestinian politics for years.
According to Egyptian sources, Sisi also charged Kamel with bridging the political divide between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The United Nations Human Rights Council decided on Thursday to establish an open-ended international investigation into the recent Gaza violence.
It also stated that it would investigate the “underlying basic causes of repeated tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination” in the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet expressed particular worry over the “large number of civilian deaths and injuries” caused by Israel’s bombing of Gaza, warning that the strikes “may constitute war crimes.”
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF EGYPT FM SPOKESPERSON