Last Thursday, eight Palestinians arrived to Gaza after Egypt handed them over to Hamas.
Among these eight individuals, four belonged to Al Qassam battalions and were kidnapped by an armed group in August 2015 in Sinai, and their traces were lost after they crossed from Gaza into Egyptian lands.
Two of the kidnapped individuals have been injured since the Israeli ‘Operation Strong Cliff’ military campaign on the Gaza strip and were headed to Turkey to receive proper medical treatment. They were Yasser Zanoun, 28, and Hussein Al-Zubdah, also 28, while the other two were students who received scholarships in Turkey to finish their university studies. They were Abdeldayem Abu Labda, 24, and Abdullah Abu Al-Jabin.
Hamas then accused Egyptian authorities of abducting its members. According to a security expert who preferred to remain anonymous, Hamas’s accusations at the time of the incident were illogical. The abduction could not have been carried out by the Egyptian security services because the official authorities in Egypt would have acted differently if they wanted to arrest the four young men if they were wanted to. They would have been calmly detained at Cairo airport or arrested on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing in a way that would show sovereignty and law rather than through intimidating the bus and its passengers with a group of masked individuals like roadblocks in the darkness of the night on a desert road.
Most observers believe that those behind the operation are members of armed groups in northern Sinai, most of whom belong to the Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis organisation, which became known after Al-Baghdadi’s allegiance of Sinai. It is an organisation that has reasons to kidnap the four young men. This analysis suggests that the conflicts between Hamas and elements in Gaza have escalated. In the meantime, Hamas arrested several elements of the organisation. This is why there is the possibility that it was elements from the Islamic State (IS) that abducted the Hamas elements to swap them with their detainees.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of Hamas, announced in a statement on Friday after the elements entered the Gaza Strip the official release of “the four brothers and their sound return from Egypt to the Gaza Strip”. He expressed his deep thanks to the Egyptian leadership for its decision, which reflects the depth of relations between both countries. He also declared the successful efforts to release four other citizens from the Gaza Strip and ensured their safe return. Haniyeh said earlier that the results of his talks with the Egyptian authorities during his recent visit to Cairo regarding the file of the four young Palestinians who were missing in Sinai in 2015 were “most important.” Haniyeh returned from Egypt last Wednesday after a 24-day visit.
“Hamas is satisfied with the results of the visit, and Egypt has understood the movement’s stance regarding various issues,” said Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza, Abdel Latif Al-Qanua. He added that the efforts of Egyptians are supportive, and they continue to help Palestinians rid them of the Israeli siege.