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Hamas responds to army accusations of Sinai militancy

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Hamas government rejects “official and unofficial” accusations of “participating in military operations in Egypt”, asks for “communication channels” with Cairo

Members of Hamas' security forces stand guard in front of the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on September 16, 2013, as demonstrators gather demanding it to be open permanently and without restrictions or conditions on the passengers. (AFP Photo)

Members of Hamas’ security forces stand guard in front of the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on September 16, 2013, as demonstrators gather demanding it to be open permanently and without restrictions or conditions on the passengers.
(AFP Photo)

Accusations leveled against Hamas of participation in military operations in Egypt are false and without evidence, said Ihab Al-Ghussein, spokesman the Hamas government in the Gaza strip, in a Sunday press conference.

Al-Ghussein said that his government completely rejects the “official and unofficial” accusations of intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs, which he said were “only [made] to demonise Gaza and Hamas”.

The remarks came in response to the press conference held by the Egyptian Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali on the same day.

Ali accused Gaza Strip authorities in the press conference of not securing the borders. He also reviewed two attempts to detonate border checkpoints remotely from Gaza, a video of a large number of the arrested in Sinai disclosing that they are from Gaza. Ali also said that many grenades and explosives confiscated were marked with the label of Ezzedine Al-Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

Al-Ghussein said he completely rejected all the accusations, especially those of attempting to detonate explosives at checkpoints and Al-Qassam-labeled explosives, saying that the latter were brought into Egypt by members of Fatah. Hamas issued a statement on its website denying Ali’s claims of Al-Qassam-labeled explosives, describing them as “lies and fabrications”.

Al-Ghussein declared that “working against the Egyptian army is not in our agenda”, and that the “restoration of security in Egypt is for the good of Palestine.” He also condemned the destruction of the tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, describing them as “the lifelines to Gaza” so long as the Rafah border crossing is closed by the Egyptian side.

Al-Ghussein added that Gaza is not “a source of terrorism”, and called on Egypt to halt “the media campaign aimed at demonising Gaza and Hamas and to re-open the Rafah border crossing.” He also hoped to find a “means of communication with Cairo and procedures to secure the mutual borders and the removal of all tension between both sides.”

The press conference was followed by a statement from the Hamas government in Gaza, saying that “the Palestinian people, and their political factions, stand at an equal distance from all the factions in Egypt.”

The statement also denied the presence of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat in Gaza, and rejected accusations regarding Hamas participation in the 25 January 2011 revolution or in Rabaa Al-Adaweya incidents.

Hamas’ political bureau member, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said on his Facebook page that “Gaza needs Egypt.”

 ”Does it (sound reasonable) that the people of Gaza perceive the Egyptians as enemies?” Abu Marzuk asked.

The Egyptian ambassador in Palestine, Yasser Othman, told state-owned news agency MENA that Hamas should stop issuing “conflicting opinions regarding Egypt”

Othman added that “while the Hamas government statement said it appreciated the Egyptian army, a Hamas’ official accused the Egyptian army of digging tunnels and putting explosives in them, in order to accuse Hamas of doing so.”

Fatah, which reigns over the West Bank, responded to the opposing statements by Egypt and Hamas through Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Barakat Al-Farra. In an interview with Al-Hayat TV channel’s news show Al-Hayat Al’an (Life Now), Al-Farra said: “Hamas is unable to see the situation correctly and has to review its policies regarding Egypt,” adding that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, but rather the organisation itself.

The tension between Egyptian authorities and Hamas, a sub-group of the Brotherhood, emerged after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi and the toppling of the Brotherhood government in Egypt on 3 July 2013.


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