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August 21, 2022 4:58 pm
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Israeli Security Chief in Cairo to Smooth Tensions Over Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Israeli Media

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A man enters an Egyptian military outpost at the Israel-Egypt border as seen from southern Israel September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The head of Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, visited Cairo on Sunday in order to ease tensions surrounding continued Israeli counterterrorism activity against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Hebrew media reported.

The news follows reporting by Israeli outlets on a recent communications breakdown with Egypt, which helped mediate a ceasefire amid August’s three-day escalation in hostilities between Israel and Islamic Jihad, a US-designated terrorist group active in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The tensions reportedly stem from Egypt’s understanding that Israel had planned to scale back its counterterrorism operations and arrests in the West Bank following the ceasefire, and its concern that this has not yet occurred, according to Israel’s Channel 13. This is apparently a different message than what Israel sought to convey.

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, whose visit to Cairo has not been confirmed by the Israeli government, reportedly met there with the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, Abbas Kamel, according to Hebrew media. The latter had canceled a trip to Israel planned for the days following the ceasefire.

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After his arrival in Cairo, Bar and Egyptian officials discussed the situation in the Gaza, as well as an Egyptian demand to free Islamic Jihad detainees in order to cement the ceasefire, according to Ynet. An unnamed Israeli government source told the outlet that the current tensions are of medium severity, and estimated that they will be resolved shortly.

“There is tension, there is no unprecedented crisis, and certainly no break of relations between the countries,” said Moriah Asraf Wolberg, diplomatic correspondent for Channel 13. Bar’s visit in Cairo is expected to continue on Monday, she added.

Also on Sunday, the Israeli military announced that it would indict a top leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank whose arrest earlier this month contributed to the latest bout of violence.

Egypt has repeatedly served as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups active in Gaza, which it has worked to reign in by imposing a security blockade on the coastal enclave and destroying dozens of cross-border smuggling tunnels. It has also outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement with deep roots in Egypt, from which both Hamas and Islamic Jihad originally emerged as offshoots.

Cairo nonetheless remains a public champion of the Palestinian cause. Earlier this month, as Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for helping bring about a cessation of hostilities, Cairo’s envoy to the United Nations tore into Israel over its escalation with Islamic Jihad, without mentioning the latter.

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