Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders head for Egypt amid Israel tensions
A delegation of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders left the Gaza Strip for Egypt on Thursday.
The representatives of the besieged Palestinian enclave's second-most-powerful faction made their way through the Rafah land crossing for Cairo following an invitation by Egypt to discuss issues of common concern.
The visit of a delegation of leaders from Gaza rulers Hamas is expected to take place at a later date, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.
Islamic Jihad's Secretary-General Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, who lives in Lebanon, is at the helm of the visiting party, joined by members of the group's political bureau.
It comes amid a dramatic escalation in Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank - with 35 killed so far this year - and continued violations against Palestinian detainees.
Six Israelis and a Ukrainian were shot dead in the occupied East Jerusalem settlement of Neve Yaakov on Friday, the day after a raid by Israeli forces that killed 10 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp.
Egypt, which has a long history of mediating between Israel and Palestinian factions, seeks to prevent an explosion of unrest in the West Bank and particularly in Gaza, with which it shares a border.
A leading source in the Islamic Jihad group had previously told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the movement had accepted an invitation to visit Cairo.
The source said the delegation would – in a surprising development – include prominent leaders from its Al-Quds Brigades military wing.
This was with the aim of consulting on the high state of alert of armed factions in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian armed groups have said that they are preparing to respond to violations against female Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Egyptian intelligence officials have invited Hamas's leadership to Cairo to discuss maintaining calm in Gaza and how to prevent inflaming the situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has learned.
Sources said Egypt's invitation to the Palestinian factions came ahead of a scheduled visit by an Egyptian security delegation to Gaza in the coming days.