Hamas official Osama Hamdan said in a television interview Sunday the proposed Gaza buffer zone in the Sinai Peninsula would “support the Israeli blockade of Gaza’s border” imposed since 2007.
“The buffer zone with Gaza’s borders only increases the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for years, and strengthens the case of incitement against the Palestinian people,” a statement released on Hamas’ official website read.
Hamdan added that the imposition of the buffer zone has “nothing to do” with security in the northern Sinai Peninsula, saying that Hamas is keen on keeping good relations with Egypt. Hamdan also restated the need to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip which has been imposed since Hamas took control in 2007.
Hamdan’s comments came a day after Egyptian TV personalities endorsed the proposed buffer zone, despite it allegedly displacing Egyptians living near the border with the occupied strip.
An army spokesman denied plans to create a buffer zone, adding that Hamas officials should not interfere with Egyptian affairs.
Khalid Arafat, an activist and leading member of the Nasserist Al-Karama Party, responded to calls for the buffer zone saying: “Displacement is a measure that the enemies of the state want.”
Sinai-based human rights activist Massaad Abu Fajr condemned calls to relocate Sinai residents.
“Any displacement means the Egyptian state is declaring war on the Sinai local tribes,” said Abu Fajr on his official Facebook page.
The move comes shortly after two attacks on army personnel Friday that left 30 dead and 31 injured. On Saturday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi accused unspecified “foreign elements” of supporting the attacks, adding that such attacks “are aiming to break the will of the Egyptians”.
Al-Sisi met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) after the attacks and stated that “the current war is a conflict of survival, where we are fighting for the return of the Egyptian state and its institutions”.