CAIRO: Hamas claimed Tuesday that member Yousef Abu Zuhri, brother of group spokesman Sami, died as a result of torture in an Egyptian jail where he had been incarcerated for the past five months.
Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that Yousef died of a hemorrhage after being subjected to “brutal torture in an Egyptian prison and was taken to a hospital in Alexandria for treatment but was returned to prison before his hemorrhage was properly treated.
Another Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum told AFP that “Yousef Abu Zuhri, 38, the brother of Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, was martyred in an Egyptian prison as a result of torture.
There had been no corroboration of Abu Zuhri’s death in Egypt up until press time, and no statement was released by the Ministry of Interior to confirm or deny the Hamas statement.
Yousef Abu Zuhri had been arrested in Al-Arish at the end of April on suspicion of entering Egypt through one of the smuggling tunnels that permeate the Egypt-Gaza border.
Abu Zuhri was arrested in a rented apartment on Mustapha Kamel Street in Al-Arish, which is 40 km from the border with Gaza. The owner of the flat had also been arrested for not informing the authorities of Abu Zuhri’s presence.
Abu Zuhri’s arrest in April coincided with the announcement of the discovery of a terrorist cell affiliated with Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah that was providing Hamas with weapons smuggled through the border tunnels. It was believed at the time that his arrest was linked in some way to the Hezbollah cell.
Head of the Tagammu party in North Sinai Ashraf El-Hefny told Daily News Egypt at the time of Abu Zuhri’s arrest that it was a tactic “to pressure Hamas for dialogue in the negotiations with Fatah in Egypt.
Egypt is still conducting intense negotiations to reach an agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and Abu Zuhri’s death will deal a sizable blow to these efforts.
Fatah had announced Tuesday its acceptance of Egypt’s reconciliation plan and a spokesman said the group intended to sign the deal within 48 hours. Hamas had not responded as regards its acceptance of the plan.