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Egyptian and Hamas-linked sources deny Cairo hindered Gaza ceasefire deal

A source close to Hamas and familiar with the truce talks told MEE that details in a report about Egypt changing the terms of the deal were 'nonsensical'
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (R) embraces Egypt's intelligence chief, General Abbas Kamel (L), as he arrives for a meeting with Hamas leaders in Gaza on 31 May 2021 (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (R) embraces Egypt's intelligence chief, General Abbas Kamel (L), as he arrives for a meeting with Hamas leaders in Gaza on 31 May 2021 (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

A TV channel owned by Egypt’s intelligence agency denied on Wednesday that Cairo had changed the terms of a ceasefire proposal between Israel and Hamas earlier this month, which purportedly led Israel to reject the deal.

The statement, published on the X account of Cairo News - a broadcaster run by the intelligence-linked company United Media Services - refuted a CNN report citing three anonymous sources. The report said the deal announced by Hamas on 6 May was different from the one submitted to the Palestinian group by Qatari and American mediators.

“It is strange that some media outlets rely on sources they call informed. We challenge those who attribute what was published to American or Israeli sources,” Cairo News quoted the source as saying.

CNN reported that Egypt’s intelligence made changes to the proposal, which “led to a wave of anger and recrimination among officials from the US, Qatar and Israel, and left ceasefire talks at an impasse”.

The report was widely shared in Egypt and prompted another anonymous statement from a source identified as “high-ranking” by Cairo News, but the statement was deleted a few hours later.

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A source close to Hamas familiar with the ceasefire talks told Middle East Eye that the information relayed by the sources to CNN was “nonsensical”.

“It’s unrealistic,” said the source on condition of anonymity. “It’s not imaginable that the Egyptians would do such a thing.”

Cairo News statement
A screengrab of a statement later deleted by Cairo News, quoting a high-ranking official as saying Cairo did not hamper ceasefire deal

The source said the claims were an attempt to justify Israel’s refusal of the ceasefire agreement and subsequent invasion of Rafah.

The Egyptian source who spoke to Cairo News criticised “parties that play the game of blaming the mediators”.

“Egypt’s exercise of the mediation role in the ceasefire deal and the freeing of hostages in the Gaza Strip came after continuous requests and insistence to play this role,” said the statement attributed to the Egyptian source.

They added that Egypt’s mediation was due to “Egypt’s experience and ability in managing such negotiations”.

Israel started a ground incursion into Rafah the day after Hamas announced it had accepted a US-mediated ceasefire deal. Since then, Israeli troops have seized control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, prompting a diplomatic row unseen in 45 years of peace between the neighbouring countries.

The deal, which Hamas says it accepted, outlined a phased release of all Israeli captives in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, leading to a permanent end to Israel's war on Gaza. 

The Palestinian movement said in a statement that Ismail Haniyeh, the group's political chief, informed Qatar and Egypt of its acceptance of the proposal at the time. 

In response, the Israeli prime minister's office said that the proposal was "far from meeting Israel's core demands" but that Israel would "dispatch a ranking delegation to Egypt in an effort to maximise the possibility of reaching an agreement on terms acceptable to Israel".

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