A joint Palestinian delegation, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is set to travel to Cairo on Saturday for ceasefire talks despite the renewed fighting in Gaza, the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced.
The announcement came despite an earlier Hamas announcement that it had kidnapped IDF Givati Brigades 2nd.-Lt. Hadar Goldin in Gaza Friday morning. Israel, which was searching the Rafah area for Goldin Friday, said the kidnapping took place after a 72-hour truce had come into effect, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Secretary of State John Kerry, who brokered the collapsed truth, that Hamas would pay.
“Abbas has formed the delegation, which will head Saturday for Cairo whatever the circumstances,” Abbas’s office said in a statement, giving the names of the 12-member delegation.
They include Abbas aide Azzam al-Ahmed, Palestinian Authority security head Majed Faraj, several senior Hamas officials including Moussa Abu Marzuk and a leading member of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhale.
The statement said they would discuss with Egyptian officials the “next steps” in trying to reach a ceasefire in a war that has killed nearly 1,500 Palestinians in 25 days, according to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Health Ministry, as well as 63 IDF soldiers and 3 civilians inside Israel. Israel says hundreds of the dead are Hamas gunmen.
The announcement came after Islamic Jihad said Egypt was delaying talks on a long-term truce.
“The Egyptians contacted the Islamic Jihad and said Israel told them that a soldier has been captured,” the group’s deputy leader Ziad al-Nakhale told AFP. “The talks have been postponed.”
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli cities and to destroy Hamas’s “terror tunnels” that infiltrate into Israel and are aimed at killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Terror groups in the Gaza Strip have fired over 2,500 rockets into Israel and gunmen have ambushed IDF troops, emerging from tunnels that run into Israeli territory, at least five times since the ground operation began on July 17.