High-level Hamas delegation sets out from Gaza to Cairo

A Hamas delegation headed by group leader Ismail Haniyeh set out from the blockaded Gaza Strip for Cairo on Friday to meet Egyptian officials.

According to group spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, the delegation includes Hamas Political Bureau members Khalil al-Hayya, Rawhi Mushtaha and Fathi Hammad.

The visit, Barhoum said, comes within the context of the group's efforts to work together with Egypt to ease the Gaza Strip's dire humanitarian situation, caused mainly by a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade of the territory.

The visit also comes within the framework of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreements signed in 2011 and 2017, he added.

Egypt is the primary sponsor of an ongoing reconciliation process between Hamas, based in Gaza, and rival Palestinian faction Fatah, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

According to Barhoum, the visit also comes as part of Hamas's efforts "to safeguard the Palestinian cause in light of the recent U.S. decision on Jerusalem [i.e., to recognize the city as Israel's capital] and [Israel's] ongoing policy of settlement expansion".

The Hamas delegation's departure from Gaza was not announced in advance.

Last October in Cairo, Hamas signed a new reconciliation agreement with Fatah. The recommendations that emanated from that agreement, however, have yet to be implemented.

Home to more than two million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian embargo since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from pro-Fatah forces.

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