Egypt's efforts to broker ceasefire between Israel and Hamas hampered by 'intransigence'
Egypt has continued to negotiate a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas faction as the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip is about to enter the third month.
A high-level security source told The New Arab that no concrete results have yet been achieved since Israel violated a 7-day-ceasefire shortly before it officially ended on Friday, 1 December.
"Both parties, Hamas and Israel, have shown intransigence amid the Egyptian and Qatari efforts to reach middle grounds. Hamas insists on keeping hostages of the Israeli army personnel, refusing to go by the Israeli rules, while Israel threatens to continue bombing Gaza till its demands are met," a high-level security source told TNA on condition of anonymity for not being authorised to talk to the media.
No accurate number of hostages that Hamas had held captive has been officially released yet, but they are estimated at hundreds. Israel holds thousands of Palestinians as well, including hundreds of women and children.
Unprecedented Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, including women and children, since 7 October.
"An undeclared Israeli security delegation visited Egypt earlier this week to continue negotiating a possible deal that both sides can abide by as they met with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and other senior security officials," the security source said without elaborating further.
In recent weeks, unconfirmed reports have resurfaced on pressures exerted on Egypt by the US and Israel to allow the exodus of Palestinians into North Sinai, a plan frequently rejected by Cairo.
Egypt's proximity to and historical relationship with the Gaza Strip, as well as its relations with Israel, make Cairo's role pivotal to a stable outcome of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
As Israel's war on Gaza continues, the Egyptian government has helped provide humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing in Egypt's once-restive North Sinai province.
The Egyptian authorities have so far only allowed dual nationals and foreigners and seriously injured civilian Palestinians to enter the country via the crossing.
On Tuesday, 5 December, a total of 100 foreigners, as well as three wounded Palestinians, were allowed to cross into Egypt, according to released figures by the Egyptian border authorities.
"Cairo has been seeking to balance its support for Gazans against the security repercussions if large numbers of Palestinians are allowed to cross into Egypt," a prominent political analyst told TNA.
"Egypt does not want a large influx of Palestinian refugees into the Sinai Peninsula due to uncertainty over whether and when they will go back home and the possibility that Palestinian militants will likely infiltrate Egypt via Gaza," added the analyst, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.
Egypt has been instrumental in brokering the ceasefires that ended each outburst of fighting between Hamas and the Israeli governments over the past few years.
"For Egypt, being part of the negotiations between Hamas and Israel is a matter of national security," the analyst explained.
Egypt and Israel have technically been at peace since the late 1970s, sharing solid diplomatic, economic, and security ties despite widespread opposition from the Egyptian public.