newsIsrael at War

Egypt putting heavy pressure on Sinwar to release Israeli hostages

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar twice tried to violate the terms of the Qatari-mediated ceasefire agreement with Israel, and was forced to back down by Cairo, according to an Egyptian source.

Hamas senior leader Yahya Sinwar during a visit to Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Hamas senior leader Yahya Sinwar during a visit to Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

As Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their temporary ceasefire by two days on Monday, Egypt is reportedly putting heavy pressure on Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

“Twice during the ceasefire the parties got into a crisis when Yahya Sinwar tried to violate the agreements, the first time last Saturday night,” said an Egyptian source with access to official circles in Cairo. “Egyptian intelligence officers arrived at the Rafah crossing and conveyed to Sinwar extremely difficult messages and threats peppered with juicy curses,” the source said.

“A short hour later … the Israeli hostages were released,” he added.

On Sunday, when it became clear to Israel that the list of names of abductees to be released was not as agreed upon, Egypt again pressured Sinwar. Hamas initially sought to release children without their mothers, in violation of the Qatari-brokered ceasefire agreement, which stipulated that parents and children were not to be separated.

Hamas relented, adding the names of two mothers in place of two children, provided that a fourth prisoner exchange be promoted.

Former Israel Security Agency director Avi Dichter said several days ago that “despite the active Qatari involvement, in the end, the deals with Hamas are carried out under Egyptian pressure because Sinwar is alert to the economic levers of pressure exerted by Egypt, including through the opening and closing of the Rafah crossing.”

Dichter currently serves as Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Israel has received from Hamas the list of 10 hostages to be released from Gaza on Tuesday, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. The list is part of the two-day ceasefire extension agreed to on Monday.

The list is being reviewed and families of the captives are being notified, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

A total of 50 Israeli women and children, plus one Israeli man, have been freed since the initial four-day ceasefire started on Friday morning, along with 17 Thais and one Filipino.

Hamas has agreed to release 10 hostages per day as part of the extension, which could last up to six additional days before Israel’s military operation in Gaza resumes.

Israel agreed to release three jailed Palestinian terrorists for each Israeli hostage as part of the deal, which also includes the entry of humanitarian aid and fuel into the Strip.

Approximately 175 Israelis and foreigners are still being held in Gaza, including Kfir Bibas, who was 9 months old when he was taken hostage by Hamas, along with his parents and 4-year-old brother, from Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Another 240 men, women, children and soldiers were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Some people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

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