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Islamic Jihad official says Egypt will release 81 Palestinian detainees

Nafidh Azzam makes statement following talks in Cairo this week between leaders in his terror group and Egyptian officials

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Members of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group march, during a military parade in Gaza City, on October 4, 2018. (Anas Baba/AFP Photo)
Members of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group march, during a military parade in Gaza City, on October 4, 2018. (Anas Baba/AFP Photo)

Egypt on Thursday will release 81 Palestinian detainees, who will then make their way to the Gaza Strip, Nafidh Azzam, a senior Islamic Jihad terror group official, told a news site based in the coastal enclave.

Azzam made the statement following talks in Cairo this week between Egyptian officials and a high-ranking delegation of Islamic Jihad leaders, among whom was Ziad al-Nakhala, the secretary-general of the terror group.

Azzam told Dunya al-Watan that 26 of those who will be released will go to Gaza alongside members of the Islamic Jihad delegation who were in Cairo, while 55 others will make their way to the coastal enclave separately.

The Dunya al-Watan report did not clarify why the 81 Palestinians would not return in a single group or whether they were affiliated with the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhala speaking to an Arabic TV station on December 12, 2018. (Credit: Al-Ghad TV)

On Tuesday, the al-Quds daily reported that Egypt recently freed 30 Islamic Jihad members, citing unnamed Palestinian sources.

Egypt has played a central role in mediating several ceasefires between Israel and Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The ceasefires have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movements of goods and people into and out of Gaza in exchange for Hamas and Islamic Jihad reining in violent acts against the Jewish state.

Islamic Jihad, one of the most powerful terror groups in Gaza, has targeted Israel with rockets and shot at Israeli soldiers. It has also often praised Palestinians in the West Bank for carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

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