Israeli Officials See Opportunity for Broader Agreement with PIJ, Hamas

Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

By Zalman Ahnsaf

YERUSHALAYIM — As the ceasefire with the Gaza terrorist group Islamic Jihad continued to hold on Monday evening, senior Israeli officials said that the three days of fighting could yield a breakthrough in years-long efforts to secure the return of Israeli civilian captives and bodies of IDF soldiers Hy”d held by Hamas, according to media reports.

“We can now start looking toward the next phase,” said one of the officials who briefed Israeli reporters.

“We are absolutely aware that there is an opportunity in the aftermath that we don’t want to miss,” said one of the officials. “The signals from Hamas in recent weeks have been received,” he continued. “We want to take things forward, and not make do only with a ceasefire with PIJ.”

While an Egyptian delegation was reportedly to land in Israel on Monday evening for talks with Israeli officials on the release of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad members as part of the ceasefire agreement, Israeli sources stressed that they have not agreed to let go of any of the prisoners demanded by PIJ.

The terrorist group is seeking the release of chief Bassam al-Saadi, whose arrest last week precipitated the fighting, as well as administrative detainee Khalil Awawda, to transfer him for medical treatment.

“Israel did not agree to release any of the prisoners,” a senior source said. “The Egyptians asked, and we will allow a dialogue on the situation of the prisoners,” meaning how they are faring from a humanitarian perspective.

The Hamas terror group holds two Israelis — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers: Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin Hy”d.

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