The Islamic Jihad defines Israel's decision to release the organization's activist Khalil Al-Awawda, who went on hunger strike because of his administrative detention for more than 170 days, as a victory over Israel.
Khalil Al-Awawda will be released on October 2 at the end of his administrative detention, he signed a commitment that he will not return to terrorist activity and in the meantime he suspended his hunger strike and returned to eating.
Al-Awawda will be released on the date that was set from the beginning at the end of his administrative detention, and Israel succumbed to the pressure exerted by Egypt and did not extend his administrative detention, he followed the method of other Islamic Jihad activists who were also under administrative detention and opened a hunger strike in order to put pressure on Israel to release him.
In February of this year, Israel released Hisham Abu Hawash, another activist of the Islamic Jihad, from administrative detention. After fasting for 141 days, he also signed a commitment not to return to terrorist activity. Egypt gave a guarantee to Israel that Khalil Al-Awawda and Hisham Abu Hawash will fulfill their commitment.
The Islamic Jihad came out with only a partial success and it attributes its success in the release of Khalil Al-Awwda to the last military confrontation with Israel in the Gaza Strip.
The administrative detention of Khalil Al-Awawda was one of the reasons for the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad also demanded the release of the senior leader of the organization Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi who was arrested in Jenin in exchange for the continuation of the calm on the border of the Gaza Strip, but this will probably no longer happen, last week an indictment was filed against him in the military court.
According to senior political sources, the decision to release Khalil Al-Awawda from his administrative detention was made by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the secret negotiations with Egypt on the release took place behind the scenes after the Egyptian intelligence managed to temporarily calm the Islamic Jihad in order to negotiate with Israel.
Israeli senior sources justify the decision to release the Islamic Jihad activist Khalil Alwawda for two reasons.
A. The continuation of his administrative detention would have increased the unrest in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, his medical condition was already close to life-threatening, in the West Bank there are the buds of a new popular intifada and the terrorist organizations are working to escalate the security situation for the upcoming holiday season.
B. The decision is intended to please Egypt and return the security cooperation between the two countries to its previous state.
The Egyptians were furious at the political level in Israel, they claimed that Israel had committed to them to release Khalil Al-Awawda and Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi as part of the cease-fire agreement, the Islamic Jihad stopped firing rockets at Israel but the Israeli security officials denied that they had given any promise to Egypt, as a result of which tensions arose between Cairo and Jerusalem, the Egyptians were enraged, the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, canceled his planned visit to Israel, and Prime Minister Yair Lapid was forced to send the head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, to Egypt to try and resolve the crisis.
According to Egyptian sources, the head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar met in Cairo with the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, and explained to him that this was a misunderstanding and internal contradictions at the top of the political echelon because of the November election and fear of Israeli public opinion.
He assured him that the issue of the release of Khalil Al-Awawda and Bassam al-Saadi would be re-examined in a positive direction, and indeed the political echelon later approved the decision to release Khalil Al-Awawda.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed two weeks ago the existence of the crisis in Israel's relations with Egypt, but expressed optimism that both sides will find a way to settle it and restore stability in relations between the two countries.
The Egyptians were also furious with Israel because of the assassination in Nablus of the wanted terrorist Ibrahim Al-Nabolsi, which came despite the telephone conversation between President al-Sisi and Prime Minister Lapid in which the Egyptian president asked him to act to calm the tensions and violence in the West Bank.
The head of Egyptian intelligence demanded from the head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar that Israel abide by its security obligations towards Egypt and emphasized that the irresponsible conduct of the political echelon in Israel harms Egypt's position as a honest broker between
Israel and the Palestinians, which could harm all the essential roles for the continued stability that Egypt plays as a mediator and its credibility.
Security officials in Israel say that the decision to release the Islamic Jihad activist Khalil Al-Awwda will contribute greatly to restoring trust in Israel-Egypt relations, an Israeli security delegation already visited Cairo last week.
Also on the agenda is an Egyptian attempt to renew the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a new deal for prisoner exchange, the situation in the territories is tense due to the increase in terrorism and violence and Israel needs Egypt in everything related to the efforts to continue to maintain calm in Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Yoni Ben Menachem
Senior Middle East Analyst