Site icon Arab News

Egyptian intel official ‘changed’ Gaza ceasefire deal: CNN

Egypt is one of the mediators in the Israel-Hamas negotiations seeking to end the months-long Gaza war [Getty/file photo]

An Egyptian intelligence official secretly changed the terms of a Gaza ceasefire deal that Israel had initially agreed to, angering Israeli officials and throwing negotiations into uncertainty, sources told CNN.

The deal would have seen a truce in Gaza and the exchange of Israeli and foreign hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Hamas announced on 6 May that it had agreed to the ceasefire deal after visiting Cairo to discuss it with Egyptian and Qatari mediators. Shortly after, Israel said it was not the original deal it had seen, claiming significant changes were made which Israel could not agree to.

Three people told American news network CNN that Egyptian intelligence was behind the changes without US and Qatari knowledge.

According to the CNN report, US mediator, CIA Director Bill Burns, was in the region when he learned about the changes made to the deal by the Egyptian side, leaving him “angry and embarrassed.”

Some Israeli officials at the time, according to American news site Axios, said they suspected Burns had knowledge of the amendments but kept them hidden from Tel Aviv.

The Egyptian intel official who made the changes has been identified as Ahmed Abdel Khalek, the three sources told CNN. Abdel Khalek is a senior deputy to Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

Abdel Khalek had reportedly told Hamas one thing and the Israelis another, and more of Hamas’ demands were added to the deal to secure the Palestinian group’s approval, one source said.

One of these demands is the complete withdrawal from Israeli forces from Gaza, but it is not clear if this was added to the agreement.

After discovering what had happened, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani informed Israeli intelligence agency Mossad that Egypt had acted alone.

On Tuesday, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al-Ansari said the Gaza ceasefire and hostage release talks between Israel and Hamas remain “close to a stalemate.”

It’s expected that Doha – which has long hosted Hamas officials and has close ties to Washington – would play a “bigger role” in the next round of talks, if these talks resume, after Cairo decided to act alone, a source said.

The source added that this doesn’t mean excluding Egypt, however, due to its “essential proximity” to Hamas.

Egypt denies report

An Egyptian source denied the reports on Wednesday, without explicitly naming CNN.

In statements made to Al-Qahera news channel, the source, described as high-ranking, said: “Egypt is surprised by the attempts of some parties to deliberately insult Egypt’s efforts being made to reach a ceasefire in Gaza.”

The source added that Egypt’s mediator role is “due to Egypt’s experience and ability in managing such difficult negotiations”.

Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground assault in Gaza has killed over 35,200 people and devastated entire parts of the enclave, as well as causing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

The war on Gaza was sparked by a surprise Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on 7 October, which resulted in around 1,170 deaths, Israeli officials say. Around 250 people were also taken hostage, some of whom remain in Gaza.

Hamas says the attack came in retaliation to decades of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people and occupation of Palestinian lands. Israel has vowed to crush the group, but its brutality in Gaza and the colossal death toll has alarmed world leaders, including allies.

Source link

Exit mobile version