Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar reportedly arrived in Cairo on Friday in order to discuss a potential prisoner swap with Israel.
Sinwar was accompanied on the trip by Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of the terror group’s military arm, the Hezbollah affiliated Al-Mayadeen reported.
In response to the report, a Hamas spokesman said the two were in Cairo to discuss the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between the terror group and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party signed there in October, according to the Walla news site.
Hamas is holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, which were captured when they were killed in Gaza during the 2014 war between Israel and the terror group. It is also believed to be holding four Israeli citizens — Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima and an unnamed person — all of whom entered the enclave on their own accord.
As part of the efforts to return the Israelis, Israel has reportedly been having indirect contact with Hamas about possible prisoner deal talks — efforts that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at. The terror group is seeking the release of its members held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the captured Israelis.
Last month, Goldin’s family filed a petition with the High Court of Justice requesting that the court order the government to implement the “plan of action” adopted by the security cabinet earlier this year that called for further pressure to be levied against Hamas until the bodies of Goldin and Shaul, along with four living Israelis being held in the Palestinian territory, are returned.
Although the security cabinet provided no details on the plan when it was adopted in January, a statement from Netanyahu’s office at the time said Israel will no longer return the bodies of Hamas terrorists killed during attacks and will instead bury them.
The filing of the petition also came a day after the Israel Defense Forces announced it had recovered the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists that were buried last week when the IDF destroyed a Gazan attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory.
Following the announcement, the Goldin family called on the government to withhold the bodies until the remains of their son were returned, and threatened to take the case to the High Court in order to prevent it.
“Instead of levying a heavy price on Hamas and steamrolling it, they tell us in meetings that the next missiles on Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon will be because of the pressure we want to put in place. Enough excuses — it’s time for action,” said Hadar Goldin’s mother, Lea.
Netanyahu vowed last month to bring back the Israelis being held by Hamas, signaling he would use bodies of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists held by Israel as leverage.
In an event in the northern town of Migdal Haemek, Netanyahu said he would not give any “free gifts” to Israel’s enemies.
“A government has two major tasks,” Netanyahu said. “The first is to protect the country and the second is to build the land. We are doing both these things together. We protect the land with a simple rule — anyone who tries to attack us, we attack them. And second, we do not give free gifts. We will bring our boys back home. There are no free gifts.”