Egypt allowed 85 senior members of Hamas
into the Gaza Strip after the Islamic group agreed to hand over a senior al-Qaeda figure, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Monday.
Egypt's intelligence services have linked the al-Qaeda fugitive to a number of terror attacks in the city of Assiut. For four months Cairo prevented dozens of Hamas officials from returning to the Gaza Strip unless the al-Qaeda fugitive was handed over.
Mushir al-Masri, the head of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and former interior minister Taled al-Qawasmeh were among the officials allowed into Gaza.
Fearing that Israel would arrest them, the officials insisted on entering Gaza from the Rafah border crossing, which is not under direct Israeli supervision.
Egypt's envoy to the Palestinian Authority Ashraf Akel rebuffed the report, saying Cairo agreed to allow them entry into Gaza for humanitarian reasons.
Over a thousand Palestinians remain stranded along the Egypt-Gaza border awaiting approval to enter Gaza.