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Behind Egypt's gift to Islamic Jihad

Egypt has freed some 80 Islamic Jihad prisoners as a goodwill gesture in an effort to bring about an extended calm in Gaza and by extension prevent a conflagration in the Sinai Peninsula.
Palestinian Islamic jihad militants take part in a military show marking the 32nd anniversary of the organisation's founding, in the central Gaza Strip October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa - RC17E1BD1920
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About 80 members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad were released from an Egyptian jail on Oct. 17. Some had been detained without trial, and others had been sentenced by a Cairo state security court to lengthy jail terms for membership in a terror organization and threatening Egypt’s national security.

The release followed an Oct. 14 meeting between senior Islamic Jihad officials, led by the organization’s head, Ziad Nahala, and senior Egyptian intelligence officials. Nahala, who arrived in Cairo from Beirut, was joined by leaders of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, from Gaza, including the commander of the northern division, Bahaa Abu el-Atta, whom Israel considers a serial troublemaker. These were not the first talks between an Islamic Jihad delegation and heads of Egyptian intelligence, but in the past, they had always been joined by Hamas representatives summoned to Cairo to discuss cease-fire agreements with Israel. This was the first time that they were called to Cairo alone to resolve issues between Egypt and their organization, which is supported by Iran.

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