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GAZA STRIP: Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is set to visit Egypt on Wednesday for talks on a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange with Israel, a source close to the Palestinian group said.

Haniyeh, based in Qatar, will head a “high-level” Hamas delegation to Egypt, where he is due to hold talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and others, the source told AFP on Tuesday.

The discussions will be “on stopping the aggression and the war to prepare an agreement for the release of prisoners (and) the end of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the source said on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to talk about the visit.

Under a week-long truce deal last month that Qatar helped negotiate, backed by Egypt and the United States, 80 Israeli hostages were freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Israel faces Gaza ceasefire calls, but US vows more arms

According to the Hamas source, the talks in Egypt will focus on “the delivery of humanitarian aid, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and the return of displaced persons to their towns and villages in the north”.

Haniyeh’s visit will be his second to Egypt since the start of the war on October 7, following a trip in early November.

US news site Axios reported Monday that David Barnea, head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, met with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and CIA director Bill Burns in Europe to discuss a potential new deal to free hostages.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had “just sent the head of Mossad to Europe twice to promote a process to free our hostages”.

“I will spare no effort on the subject, and our duty is to bring them all back,” he said in a statement.

Meeting with hostage families on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that “saving them is a supreme task”.

Hostage video

Late Tuesday, the Palestinian group released video footage that it claimed showed two hostages alive in its custody in Gaza after being taken to the territory during the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel.

Israel strikes Gaza as pressure grows for ceasefire

In the video, two men appear one after the other asking for increased pressure on the Israeli authorities to ensure their release.

On Monday, Hamas’s military wing had released footage it claimed showed three Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

The video from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, titled “Don’t let us grow old here”, showed three bearded men sitting on chairs at an undisclosed location and asking to be released.

Anger, fear and calls for a ceasefire from hostages’ families have intensified after Israeli forces in Gaza mistakenly shot and killed three captives who had escaped their captors.

The deadliest-ever war in the narrow territory began after Hamas poured across the border on October 7 and killed about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the latest official Israeli figures.

During their attack, abducted around 250 people, with 129 still in captivity, according to latest Israeli figures.

In Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive against Hamas, at least 19,667 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Palestinian territory.

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