GAZA CITY: In destroyed Gaza, Hamas spokesman Ihab Al-Ghusain conveyed what he believed to be the prevalent feeling towards Egypt in the aftermath of Israel’s 22-day assault.
Al-Ghusain told Daily News Egypt that Hamas blames the Egyptian state for what they see as the nation’s role in Gaza’s latest round of misery.
Speaking in the parking lot of Al-Shifa Hospital, he criticized Egyptian officials and said that, as historic leaders of the Arab world, the state could choose to defy Israeli and American pressure and open the Rafah border.
“I think [President] Mubarak has had very hard pressures on him to continue closing the Rafah border. from Israel, from America. but he could say, ‘No, I will open the Rafah border.’ We’re talking about Egypt. An Arab country. A big Arab country. And it’s always in the lead of all the Arab countries, Al-Ghusain said.
Egypt has kept the Rafah border closed since June 2007, after Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza. During the first two weeks of Israel’s attack, the border was opened sporadically to allow a trickle of medical and food aid, but the pace picked up towards the last week when Egyptian diplomatic efforts to mediate between Hamas and Israel increased.
Contrary to the prevailing view, the Egyptian government announced that hundreds of tons of donations were sent to Gaza as well as at least 70 ambulances, mostly donated by Egypt. Yet observers on the border crossing criticized the slow pace at which the supplies were being delivered since trucks had to be unloaded and reloaded on to Gazan trucks. A few days before the ceasefire, however, supplies and doctors were allowed inside Gaza, speeding up the aid cycle.
Over 500 wounded Palestinians, each with one accompanying family member, are currently being treated in Egyptian hospitals.
On Wednesday, Rafah guards allowed over 40 foreign journalists to enter the Gaza Strip, yet many aid workers were delayed at the border.
Al-Ghusain said that his party holds Egypt responsible for the closed Rafah border. They are talking to Egypt about reopening the crossing, he said, but these efforts have borne little value so far. “We talk with them always, and they just say, you know, it’s political, he said.
The spokesman said that Hamas has no contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, but added that he thinks Hamas should have contact with them. “Hamas is part of the Muslim Brothers of the world, so we should have some relations with them, he said.
Al-Ghusain cited shelling along the Gaza coast Thursday morning and a shooting in northern Gaza on Tuesday as evidence of sustained Israeli aggression.
“[The ceasefire] depends on the Israelis and whether they will continue the ceasefire, he said. “The problem is not only the ceasefire. The ceasefire should come with political efforts to open the borders. Reopen the old borders, especially in Rafah, and break the siege.