Ziad al-Nakhalah, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). File photo
Other leaders from the Hamas movement will also join the delegation to attend an expanded meeting in Egypt, the sources say, where the Egyptian officials will discuss the process to achieve calm between the Palestinian factions and Israel in light of the bloody escalation between the two sides, the sources explained.
According to AFP, Islamic Jihad said earlier in the day that it would send a delegation led by the militant group's leader Ziad Al-Nakhala to Cairo on Thursday at Egypt's invitation.
The delegation would meet with the head of Egypt's intelligence service to discuss "how to restore calm, especially after the last escalation, including the aggressions against prisoners", said Daoud Shihab, a senior Islamic Jihad member in Gaza.
The visit comes amid heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions since the new far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in late December.
On Thursday, Israeli warplanes struck Gaza, drawing retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinian militants, as violence flared despite US calls for "urgent steps" to restore calm, according to AFP.
Israel said the pre-dawn strikes were in response to an earlier rocket launch and it targeted military training camps used by Gaza's rulers Hamas. The air strikes targeted the central area of the Strip, reported the AFP, hours after its interception of the missile fired from Gaza.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli jets launched strikes against Gaza, escalating tensions and fears a few months after Israel launched one of its deadliest raids in years in the occupied West Bank, including a deadly raid on Jenin refugee camp last Thursday killing 10 Palestinians. An 11th Palestinian was killed elsewhere in the West Bank on the same day.
In response, a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside an East Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night, killing at least seven and wounding several people.
This year Israel has killed 35 Palestinians.
Last year was the deadliest year in the West Bank since the United Nations started tracking fatalities in the territory in 2005.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem last year, making 2022 the deadliest year in those territories since 2004, according to a leading Israeli rights group
Thursday’s visit comes two days after Egypt’s Chief of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) Abbas Kamel and his Jordanian counterpart Ahmed Hosni conveyed a message of support from their presidents for the Palestinian issue in a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
On Saturday, Egypt warned of the severe dangers of the ongoing escalation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, calling for the exercising of maximum restraint and an end to aggression and provocative measures.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, Egypt also warned against “slipping into a vicious cycle of violence that worsens the political and humanitarian situation and undermines efforts to achieve calm and ruins all chances of reviving the peace process.”