Senior Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh returned to Gaza on Friday after five months abroad, AFP reported.
Haniyeh left Gaza in September to perform the Muslim hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, and returned via Gulf countries and Egypt, according to the news agency.
This week, Haniyeh met in Cairo with Egyptian officials to discuss ways to improve strained Hamas-Egypt relations.
“The movement’s delegation completed a successful visit to Egypt,” a Hamas statement on Friday read, saying they had a series of “fruitful” meetings with Egyptian officials, including head of general intelligence Khaled Fawzy.
Upon his return to his home near Gaza city, Haniyeh told journalists the relationship with Egypt was improving.
“(Hamas) will continue to develop this relationship and strengthen it,” he said, according to AFP.
Hamas was on good terms with Egypt under the rule of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a member of Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Things have been different, however, under current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who ousted Morsi in 2013.
Cairo has accused Hamas of being involved in the terrorist attacks in the Sinai, most of which have been carried out by the “Sinai Province”, which is the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Egypt. Hamas denies the accusations.
Last year, Egypt accused Hamas of involvement, along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in the killing of the country’s top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.
Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian Arabs to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian sources revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels. Hamas denied the charge.
Last March, a delegation headed by Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzook held talks in Egypt aimed at normalizing strained relations.
Following the visit, reports emerged that Hamas agreed to Egypt’s demands, namely that it would not interfere in Egyptian affairs, and will supervise and control the borders with Gaza, while fighting all extremists in Gaza and stopping them from infiltrating Egypt