Egypt's intelligence chief met Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday in an effort to bolster a ceasefire between the Palestinian militant group and Israel and to discuss reconstruction plans following the recent hostilities, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said.
The visit was the first ever to the enclave by Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Abbas Kamel and the first since the early 2000s by an Egyptian intelligence chief.
"The discussion is focused on ways to cement the calm and Gaza reconstruction plans following the recent Israeli aggression," said a Hamas official, who asked not to be named.
Hamas officials, led by Gaza chief Yehya Sinwar, would urge Cairo to pressure Israel to stop "its assaults against our people in Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah," he said.
Kamel's meetings with Hamas officials were to take place at the Al-Mashtal Hotel on the shores of Gaza City, where Sinwar was already waiting.
Eleven days of fighting between Israel and Hamas erupted on May 10 amid Palestinian anger at Israeli police raids around the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and plans to evict four Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah district of the city.
Gaza medical officials said 253 Palestinians were killed during the fighting. Palestinian rockets and missiles killed 13 people in Israel.
Large posters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian flags decorated streets across the enclave to greet the intelligence chief. Hundreds of people lined up outside the entrance to Gaza waving Egyptian flags as his motorcade drove by.
Kamel's visit is seen as an effort by Cairo to regain a more vital role in mediation between Israel and Hamas and revive the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process.
He was also expected to announce plans by Cairo to build a housing city in the enclave, the official said.
Gaza's housing ministry said 1,500 housing units were completely destroyed during the fighting, another 1,500 housing units had been damaged beyond repair, and 17,000 others suffered partial damage. A ministry official put the cost of rebuilding at $150 million.
On Sunday, Kamel met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu said his meeting dealt with regional security issues and ways to prevent Hamas from siphoning off civilian aid to strengthen its capabilities.
Kamel also met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday and handed him a message from Sisi affirming Cairo's support for Palestinians and Abbas, state news agency MENA said.