Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a press conference in Cairo with Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Barakat El-Farra (right) and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat (left). (Photo: Reuter)
Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Egypt Barakat Al-Farra claimed on Sunday the Hamas Islamist group was “unable” to assess the Egyptian situation following president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
“Hamas is unable to see the situation correctly and has to review its policies regarding Egypt,” he said in an interview on Egyptian satellite channel Al-Hayat.
The ambassador also highlighted Palestinian-Egyptian relations, saying that his country and the Arab world are directly affected by circumstances in Egypt.
Al-Farra added that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip since 2007, does not “represent the Palestinian people, it only represents itself.”
Tensions have been on the rise between the Egyptian government and Hamas -- an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi hails -- since the Islamist president's ouster by the army on 3 July amid mass protests against his one-year rule.
Seeking to deflate tensions with the Egyptian authorities, the Gaza government released a statement on Sunday saying that "the Palestinian people, and their political factions, stand at equal distance from all the [people of] Egypt." The statement elaborated that out of respected for the "will and sovereignty" of Egypt, it had not interfered in its affairs, rejecting accusations to the contrary against the Gaza Strip.
Egypt's Army Spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali had earlier on Sunday stated that the military confiscated munitions -- including hand grenades -- bearing the stamp of Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military arm. He also said there was “cooperation between armed, terrorist organisations and their counterparts in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas denied these claims, describing them as “lies and fabrications.”
Attacks by militant Islamists have been on the rise in North Sinai, particularly in areas nearing Egypt's borders with Gaza and Israel. Consequently, the army has been engaged in "anti-terrorist" operations there.
The Egyptian army previously announced its destruction of a number of smuggling tunnels connecting Sinai to the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli blockade. The Rafah Border Crossing, the strip's only land passage that bypasses Israel through Egypt, now also operates under strict regulations, and has repeatedly been closed off.