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Hamas leader heads to Cairo ahead of Gaza protests

Ismail Haniya, the Head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

The head of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas left for Cairo on Sunday, sources in the movement said, a day before major protests are expected in the enclave over Washington’s controversial Jerusalem embassy move.

Ismail Haniya passed through the Rafah crossing early Sunday and is expected to meet the head of Egypt’s security services, the sources said, as speculation mounts that Egypt is seeking to negotiate a deal with Hamas to ease potential violence on Monday.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to gather along the border between Gaza and Israel Monday to protest as the US opens its embassy in Jerusalem.

Hamas leaders have voiced support in recent days for attempts to break the fence into Israel, despite the possibility of it leading to bloodshed.

Arab media have speculated that Egypt, one of only two Arab countries to have a peace treaty with Israel, could ease border restrictions with Gaza and offer economic relief in exchange for protesters not trying to breach the fence.

Fifty-four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since mass protests broke out along the border on March 30. No Israelis have been injured.

The moving of the embassy, a campaign pledge by US President Donald Trump, has infuriated Palestinians, who view the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump will not attend the embassy opening Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner will.

Haniya is expected to return to Gaza late Sunday ahead of the protests.



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