Palestinian resistance group Hamas said on Monday Egypt is "responsible" for the lives of four Palestinian members kidnapped last week in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
Hamas urged the Egyptian authorities to do more to secure the release of the hostages and called on human rights groups to play a bigger role on condemning the "savage" kidnapping.
The Hamas members were reportedly kidnapped by the ISIS-affiliated militant group Wilayet Sinai. Hamas warned the insurgents against harming its kidnapped members.
"The criminals who dare to take action against our people falsely think that the Palestinian people might forget or ignore this case," the statement added.
The four kidnapped Palestinians - identified as Abd al Basit Abd al Dayim, Abdullah Said Abdullah Abu Jibbeen, Yasir Fathi Misbah Zanoun and Hussein Khamis al Thabda - were abducted at gunpoint on Wednesday after they crossed through the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.
Egyptian officials told the Ma'an news agency that Wilayet Sinai will use the captured Palestinians as a bargaining chip to force Hamas to release 50 Salafists currently imprisoned in Gaza.
Negotiations have reportedly begun between Hamas and the militant group, with the involvement of both Palestinian and Egyptian mediators.
The four Hamas members will be killed if Hamas did not comply with Wilayet Sinai’s demands, sources close to the armed group told Ma’an. Initial reports suggest the Palestinians were taken to al-Tuma village south of the city of Sheikh Zuweid.
Wilayet Sinai has claimed responsibility for constant attacks on the Egyptian army and killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since 2013.
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai closed on Friday after it had been open for four days.
The crossing was opened to allow emergency medical cases through, an official in Gaza said. Egyptian authorities did not indicate when the crossing would next be opened but confirmed that the crossing will be opened again for humanitarian purposes in the future.
Iyam al Bazem, spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, said that 2,579 people seeking humanitarian aid left Gaza and entered Egypt, while 3,178 people entered the coastal territory. Egypt prevented 146 Palestinians from leaving Gaza, he added.
Seventeen thousand Palestinians need to urgently leave Gaza, either for medical treatment or to continue their studies abroad, al Bazem said.
The Rafah crossing is dedicated only for the use of individuals and is currently the only way out of the Gaza Strip for the 1.8 million Palestinians living there.
The Gaza Strip has seen the highest number of deaths this year since 2009, due to dire humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel.