A fighter from Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, takes part in a military parade in the southern Gaza Strip (Photo credit: Reuters)
Sources close to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) say there is “considerable anger” towards Egyptian intelligence services over the role they played in the hours leading up to Israel’s most recent blitz of the Gaza Strip
According to the sources who spoke with Middle East Eye (MEE), Cairo told the PIJ last Friday that Tel Aviv “would respond positively to a request to release two PIJ members from prison,” and that the occupation army sought “no escalation.”
“We want to end this escalation. Give us until Sunday and we are pushing them [Israel’s political leaders] to agree,” the Israelis reportedly told the Egyptians, who passed on the message on to the PIJ just four hours before Israel began bombing residential buildings in Gaza.
What followed were three days of intense airstrikes that left at least 48 Palestinians dead, including 17 children, according to the latest figures.
“[The PIJ] believe they have been betrayed by the Egyptians and that they were part of the game – to make them feel relaxed and secure just before the air strikes took place,” a source close to the PIJ told MEE.
Israel’s blitz began days after PIJ official Bassam al-Saadi was detained in the West Bank city of Jenin, during a raid in which a Palestinian teenager was killed. The move angered the Gaza-based resistance group, who debated “whether to retaliate.”
“There is a lot of anger and tension within [the PIJ] because of the role of [the] Egyptian mediation, because they consider the Egyptians gave them misleading information and hints just before the air strikes. As a result of this information, the [PIJ] relaxed and was unprepared for the air strikes,” the source added.
After a ceasefire was reached late on 7 August, the PIJ made it clear that Egypt agreed to secure the release of Al-Saadi and Khalil Awawdah, a PIJ member who has been on hunger strike for more than 150 days.
However, on 11 August an Israeli military court extended Al-Saadi’s detention. A day earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he was “not familiar with a promise to release terrorists.”
A delegation of Egyptian officials are expected to arrive in Israel next week to discuss the prisoners’ release, in hopes of preventing another violent escalation, according to the resistance group’s official Telegram channel.