Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar reportedly visited Egypt on Sunday as Israel sought to restore ties between Jerusalem and Cairo, which have apparently become strained since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end end to the fighting in Gaza earlier this month.
Bar’s visit was not confirmed by official sources in Israel or Egypt, but was widely reported by Hebrew media.
Senior Israeli officials said that during the trip Bar met with Egyptian spymaster Abbas Kamel, Hebrew media reported.
The Shin Bet declined to comment on the case.
Relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have reportedly been tense, following the short series of hostilities between Israel and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, due to a misunderstanding over what steps Israel would take to maintain calm.
Egypt played a key role in brokering the ceasefire. The Egyptian spy service, headed by Kamel, has for years served as the main channel for talks between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups.
According to the Haaretz daily, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was led to believe during a phone call with Prime Minister Yair Lapid that Israel would limit its security operations in the West Bank in the sensitive period following the conflagration in Gaza.
But less than 48 hours later, the IDF carried out a raid in Nablus, killing Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim Nabulsi and two others, and wounding dozens more amid widespread fighting in the city. The operation is said to have angered the Egyptian government.
Shortly after the three-day conflict, Egypt’s ambassador to the United Nations, Osama Abdel Khalek, burst into Israel, during a speech before the UN Security Council.
While Egypt and other Arab countries with ties to the Jewish state still traditionally maintain critical lines toward Israel at the UN, the rhetoric employed by Khalek went much further than that typically used publicly by the Jewish state. Egyptian officials, especially in recent years as ties between Israel and Egypt have warmed further.
The tongue-in-cheek also came after Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan made a point of thanking Egypt and Sisi, “who have been essential in restoring calm and stability to our region”.
A similar message was conveyed to the Egyptian leader by Prime Minister Yair Lapid when the two men spoke on the phone.
Tensions with Gaza erupted when Israeli security forces arrested Bassem Saadi, the head of the West Bank branch of Islamic Jihad, on August 1 in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
Days later, Israel carried out airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza in response to what the military said was a concrete threat from a terror cell to fire anti-tank missiles across the border on Israeli soldiers or civilians in revenge for Saadi’s arrest. The strikes were followed by the firing of nearly 1,000 rockets towards Israel, as well as around 170 Israeli counterattacks.
According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza, the death toll from recent fighting in Gaza stands at 48. Israel says some of the deaths are likely due to Islamic Jihad rocket misfires.
In total, more than 300 Palestinians were injured in three days of fighting, the worst cross-border violence since an 11-day war with Hamas last year.
Jacob Magid and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.