US officials exerted pressure on Egypt to prevent two senior Islamic Jihad officials from entering the Gaza Strip with Hamas’s political chief Khaled Mashaal, according to a report in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Saturday.
The paper confirmed reports by Islamic Jihad, which said on Thursday that Israel had warned Egypt it would consider the three-week-old truce since Operation Pillar of Defense over if the terrorist group’s leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah and his deputy, Ziad Nakhaleh, entered the Strip.
Israel also warned Egypt about permitting a third individual, Hamas official Saleh Al-Aruri, from joining Mashaal, who was making his first-ever trip to Gaza.
According to Al-Hayat, US officials made clear to the Egyptian government that it must accede to Israel’s demands and that the matter was not open for discussion.
The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad is considered by Israel to be more extremist than Hamas, which controls the Strip.
Both terror groups joined forces during Israel’s 8-day Gaza operation in November, together firing some 1,500 rockets at Israeli cities.