Last updated: 16 September, 2012

Top Hamas delegation to visit Cairo on Monday

A delegation of top-level Hamas officials is to visit the Egyptian capital on Monday for talks with President Mohammed Morsi, Palestinian officials said.

Hamas’s exiled supreme chief Khaled Meshaal is to head the joint delegation from the Gaza Strip and abroad, an official from the Islamist movement told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

He was expected to hold talks with Morsi on Tuesday morning, the source said.

Gaza’s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya had also been expected to set out for Cairo on Sunday where he was to hold security talks with his Egyptian counterpart Hisham Qandil the next day.

But several security incidents in northern Sinai prompted Egyptian officials to call off the trip, a senior official in Gaza said. “The Egyptians postponed the visit for security reasons,” he said.

Earlier Sunday, militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked the North Sinai security headquarters in Egypt’s coastal city of El-Arish, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza.

In a separate incident, three policemen, a woman and a child were injured in clashes and an attack on a police station in Sheikh Zuwayyid, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Rafah, officials said.

Haniya had been scheduled to travel to Egypt for talk on security in the wake of an August 5 attack which killed 16 Egyptian border guards in northern Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Ties between Cairo and the Hamas-run government of Gaza have been strained by the August attack, with Egyptian officials saying saying some of the assailants had reached Sinai through cross-border smuggling tunnels.

Cairo temporarily closed the Gaza border at Rafah and shut down or demolished at least 120 tunnels, a key conduit for bringing goods, fuel and building materials into the Palestinian enclave that has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006.

Hamas has insisted there is no proof that any Palestinian was involved in the deadly attack.