Egypt hosts Palestinian groups, urges calm with Israel

A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas patrols on border with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip July 5, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019

Egypt hosts Palestinian groups, urges calm with Israel

  • Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, led a delegation to meet with Egyptian security officials in Cairo
  • Hamas has been in a bitter rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank

GAZA: Egypt will hold talks with leaders of two major Palestinian factions to try to salvage faltering unity efforts and to restore calm with Israel, officials said on Sunday.
The head of the Islamist militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, led a delegation to meet with Egyptian security officials in Cairo. The leader of a smaller Gaza-based faction, Islamic Jihad, also headed to Cairo, Palestinian officials said.
Hamas has been in a bitter rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, for more than a decade. Numerous reconciliation efforts have failed.
Egypt is also trying to prevent an escalation in violence between Hamas and Israel, after months of tension along the Israel-Gaza border. Cairo sent officials to Gaza in recent weeks to keep an eye on the situation.
“Cairo is driven by its interest to avoid a new war in Gaza and in improving the living conditions of Gaza residents,” said one Palestinian official, who asked not to be named.
Relations between Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) worsened last month when Abbas ordered his men to leave their posts at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the main corridor for Gazans.
This prompted Cairo, which had in the past year coordinated operations with the PA, to close the crossing.
Gaza officials now say that Egypt has quietly resumed operations at the Rafah crossing over the past week, this time working with Hamas. However, there was no immediate comment on the reopening of Rafah from Egyptian officials.
On Sunday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh passed through the Rafah crossing, along with dozens of other Palestinians.
Two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, where poverty is rampant and unemployment stands at 50 percent. Israel, together with Egypt, maintains a blockade of the enclave, citing security concerns.
Gaza’s health ministry says more than 220 Palestinians have been killed in the past year by Israeli troops in weekly protests along the border, billed as pressing for an end to the blockade.


Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

Updated 36 min 40 sec ago

Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

  • They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant
  • A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate

SIMALKA CROSSING: The Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria on Monday handed over four children linked with the Daesh group to Germany, their first such repatriation to the European country, an official said.
“The autonomous region handed over four children from Daesh families to a delegation from Germany,” said Fanar Kaeet, a foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities.
They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant who was repatriated for health reasons, Kurdish authorities said.
All are under 10 years old, they said.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan at the Simalka border crossing.
“I can confirm that four children who were in custody in northern Syria were able to leave Syria,” she said.
“The children were received on the Iraqi-Syrian border by staff of the consulate in Irbil and will be given to family members,” the spokeswoman said.
“From there, the children and their family members will, we believe, travel to Germany.”
Syria’s Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against Daesh in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.
Even as they fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged Daesh fighters and family members are being held in their custody.
These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in their jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.
Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.
But France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States last year repatriated a woman with her four children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.
A dozen children of alleged jihadist fighters have been repatriated from Iraq to Germany since March.