Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip were to meet on Monday with members of Egyptian delegation mediating a long-term ceasefire arrangement with Israel. Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, has so far not confirmed his participation in the meeting due to growing fears within the terror group that Israel is planning to assassinate him.
Hamas has recently beefed-up security around Sinwar during all of his public appearances, which recently became almost non-existent. It’s believed Sinwar fears becoming a victim of an Israeli targeted killing.
Only a day earlier, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett issued a thinly-veiled threat against Hamas, warning Israel might have to once again resort to targeted assassinations if the terror group continues to launch attacks on Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.
After a long hiatus, Israel has renewed its policy of targeted killings last November when the army killed a top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Baha Abu Al Atta, in a nighttime raid.
If Sinwar indeed decided to skip the meeting out of safety concerns, his deputy - Khalil al-Khaya - is expected to take his place at the discussion table.
Prior to entering Gaza, members of the delegation held meetings with Israeli officials, including the National Security Council, the Shin Bet domestic security and the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories.
The meetings are believed to be less focused on a long-term arrangement and more on trying to avoid another cross-border flare up in the wake of the recent tensions between the two sides.
Hamas apparently have also asked the Egyptian officials, who are set to tour the border between Egypt and Gaza, for logistical assistance in protecting the security fence. The border has become somewhat volatile in recent months due to infiltration attempts made by Islamic State-affiliated groups from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza.