Hamas leader Sinwar heads to Egypt to discuss truce with Israel
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Hamas leader Sinwar heads to Egypt to discuss truce with Israel

Gaza terror group turns to Egyptian intel chief to mediate return to ceasefire, after a day of rising tensions following arson balloon attacks

Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents in his office in Gaza City on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents in his office in Gaza City on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

GAZA CITY, Gaza — A Hamas delegation led by the group’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce with Israel, Hamas officials said.

Egypt has long been the broker between Israel and the terror group that runs Gaza.

In November it brokered a fragile truce agreement whereby Israel eased its blockade of the Gaza Strip in exchange for calm.

That agreement has appeared to be under stress in recent days, with Palestinians launching arson balloons and rockets into Israel and Israeli warplanes striking Hamas targets.

Masked Hamas gunmen attend the funeral of Mahmoud al-Nabaheen, 24, in the Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, on January 23, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Hamas has said the incendiary balloons were a message to Israel not to hold up the transfer of millions of dollars in Qatari aid funds to the cash-strapped Hamas government in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Sinwar “left Gaza for Cairo at the invitation of the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Major General Abbas Kamel.”

The visit was aimed at discussing “bilateral relations and ways to lessen the suffering of our people,” he said in a statement.

A Hamas official said the truce agreement would be discussed.

Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel attends a meeting of Egyptian and Sudanese foreign ministers and heads of intelligence at Tahrir Palace, in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2018. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool photo via AP)

Islamic Jihad, a Hamas-allied group backed by Iran, said its head will also attend the meetings.

Israel’s air force carried out air raids early Thursday morning on “a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip,” a military statement said.

It said they were in response to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from Gaza into Israel.

Palestinian terrorists responded by launching two rockets into southern Israel. The projectiles fell in an open area, and no injuries were reported.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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