Israelis ‘Surprised’ at Hamas Sitting Next Door in Cairo, as Indirect Talks on Captives Show No Progress
Members of an Israeli delegation attending a Cairo meeting on securing Israeli captives held in Gaza were “surprised” to learn that senior Hamas representatives were sitting in a nearby room, Hebrew media reported Wednesday, with the two sides making no progress so far during indirect negotiations.
The Tuesday meetings, mediated by Egypt, were described by Israeli officials as “preliminary” efforts to bring home two civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terrorist group, Israeli news site Walla reported.
Despite the close proximity of the Israeli and Hamas delegations — the first such indirect talks since the 11-day conflict in May — no progress was made, with Hamas demanding the release of Palestinian security prisoners that have “blood on their hands.”
Hamas holds captive Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who crossed into Gaza Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
Walla said that Israel’s security cabinet would convene in the coming weeks to decide whether to maintain a policy of not releasing security prisoners involved in killing Israelis.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pressed Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on returning the captives held by Hamas, thanking the Egyptian leader for its role in brokering the ceasefire that ended the May conflict.