Hamas Delegation Arrives in Egypt for Talks on Extraditing Jihadists

A Palestinian supporter of the Islamic Jihad movement attends a protest calling for the release of Palestinians held Israeli prisons on March 31, 2008 at the International Red Cross offices in Gaza City. An Israeli minister today called for direct talks with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas aimed at securing …

JAFFA, Israel – A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Wednesday morning as part of the movement’s ongoing rapprochement with the Egyptian regime, according to a Hamas source.

The source said that discussions will focus on security arrangements as well as measures against dozens of jihadi fighters who have been given refuge in Gaza after fighting against the Egyptian army in the ranks of Waliyat Sinai, the Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, as well as Palestinian jihadists currently engaged in battle in Sinai.

In addition, Egypt’s blacklist includes a number of operatives in Hamas’ so-called military wing, who allegedly trained the IS-aligned fighters, provided them with logistical support and sometimes even took part in fighting.

Among the militants wanted by Egypt are members of Gaza’s Army of Islam, led by Mumtaz Dughmush, who, together with Hamas, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and BBC reporter Alan Johnston about a decade ago, the source said. The Army of Islam has in the past made a formal petition to IS to be recognized as their sole representative in Gaza.

In the past, Hamas delegations were welcomed in Egypt fairly regularly, especially during the presidency of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, but this is the first visit during Abdel Fatah Sisi’s reign.  Among the delegates is Tawfiq Abu Naim, Hamas’ newly appointed chief of security, a former prisoner of Israel who was released in an exchange deal in 2011, the source said.

Hamas’ Egyptian interlocutors are expected to demand that Hamas extradite suspects of hostilities against Egyptian targets.