Selangor Journal
Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel is reported to have met with a Hamas delegation to negotiate a ceasefire, on April 7, 2024. — Picture via MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

Hamas calls for hostage swap during ceasefire talks in Egypt

GAZA CITY, April 8 — A delegation from the Palestinian group Hamas held discussions on Sunday with the head of Egyptian intelligence in Cairo on efforts to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and a hostage swap deal with Israel.

“A delegation from the movement arrived in Cairo and met with Abbas Kamel,” Anadolu Agency reported Hamas said in a statement.

“The delegation emphasised Hamas’s demands, its desire to reach an agreement that would achieve a complete cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of occupation forces from the Gaza Strip, the free return of displaced people to their regions and places of residence, the relief of our people and the beginning of reconstruction of what was destroyed by the occupation,” it said.

Hamas emphasised the necessity to “achieve a hostage swap deal under which Palestinian prisoners are released in exchange for the release of (Israeli) hostages detained by Hamas and the resistance in Gaza”.

The statement added that “Hamas affirmed its determination, along with all Palestinian forces and factions, to achieve our national goals and establish our Palestinian state with full sovereignty and its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return and self-determination.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli war council decided to send a delegation to Cairo to participate in negotiations on reaching a deal to swap hostages with Hamas, Anadolu reported, citing Israeli media.

Qatar, Egypt and the US are trying to reach a hostage swap deal and ceasefire in Gaza, as the first pause in fighting lasted only a week in late November last year, which resulted in limited aid entering the Gaza Strip as well as exchanges of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children detained in Israeli jails.

Israel is holding at least 9,100 Palestinians in its jails, while there are an estimated 134 Israeli hostages in Gaza. Hamas has announced the deaths of 70 of them in various Israeli airstrikes, it added.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since October 7, last year, killing nearly 33,200 Palestinians and wounding almost 75,900 others amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The regime has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which recently asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

— Bernama-Anadolu

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