A Hamas delegation arrives in Egypt to discuss a possible ceasefire in Gaza

A delegation from the Islamist movement Hamas, led by the head of its political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo today discuss a possible ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange with senior Egyptian intelligence officials, Sources close to the talks have reported.

According to sources The Hamas delegation will soon meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel to “address a possible ceasefire agreement leading to the release of the hostages” held by the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip.

During the meetings, the agreement proposal put forward by Qatar was presented a new ceasefire and a hostage exchange of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, something Haniyeh said yesterday the movement was “studying” and would “respond soon.”

According to the informants, who wished to remain anonymous, Hamas will give Egypt an answer whether it accepts this proposal or notalthough the Palestinian movement announced that it was calling for “the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops” from the Gaza Strip.

In addition to Haniyeh, the Hamas delegation includes his advisor Taher al Nono; political office member Ezat Risheq; and the powerful leader Jalil al Haya.

The proposed agreement provides for the exchange of hostages for prisoners in several stages According to the sources, the first phase would involve the release of 35 civilian prisoners held by Hamas in return for a complete cessation of Israeli operations for 45 days.

Aside from that, involves the release of about 100 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for every hostage released by HamasIn addition, increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip is also being considered.

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The second phase would see the release of the female and male soldiers, while the final phase would include the transfer of the bodies of the hostages who died during their captivity in the Palestinian enclave, according to the sources.

Israel and Hamas reached a single week-long ceasefire agreement between November 24 and 30 that ended the fighting and allowed the exchange of 105 hostages, some of them foreigners, in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners; something that has not been repeated since.

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