Al-Zahar decries bids to harm Egyptian-Hamas ties

Ahram Online , Thursday 28 Mar 2013

Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah are purposely spreading false information to threaten Egypt-Hamas relations, Islamist group leader says

Palestinian Hamas' leader Mahmoud Zahar speaks to the media during a press conference (Photo:AP)

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a Gaza-based senior Hamas leader, has blamed Palestinian bodies in Gaza and Ramallah of transferring "fabricated information" to Egyptian media in order to negatively influence the relationship between Cairo and the Islamist movement, Sky News Arabia reported Wednesday. 

"Some Palestinians who work for, or previously worked in, Palestinian security institutions deliberately undertook these actions, ignoring the historical relationship between Gaza and Egypt," Al-Zahar said during a conference on Egyptian-Palestinian relations.

Al-Zahar did not name names, but said that Egypt and Hamas "knows them."

He underlined that Egyptian authorities have not finalised their investigations into the killing of 16 border guards near Rafah in the Sinai Peninsula last year.

Earlier this month, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, a state-run Egyptian weekly magazine, sparked controversy by claiming three Hamas members were responsible for the operation.

The alleged perpetrators were Ayman Nofal, a leading figure in Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, who escaped from Egyptian prison during the January 25 Revolution; Mohamed Ibrahim Abu-Shamala, also known as Abu Khalil; and Raed Attar, who lead the team that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006.

The magazine claimed security officials had confirmed the information, adding the attack was carried out in response to the Egyptian military's decision to destroy tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza, a lifeline for Palestinians in the besieged enclave.

Other Egyptian tabloids, and some newspapers in the Gulf, circulated reports accusing Hamas members of orchestrating the Rafah attack.

There have also been reports in both the Egyptian and the Israeli media over the past few weeks that three training camps are operating in northern Sinai associated with Al-Qaeda-linked Egyptian group Ansar Al-Jihad, as well as other Islamist groups, Jund Muhammad, Jund Al-Islam, Tawhid and the Gaza-based Al-Jihad.

These accusations have also been denied by Hamas.

"All Palestinians, regardless of their political affiliations, have refused to live in Sinai, even during times when Gaza was under Egyptian administration from 1948 until 1967," Al-Zahar pointed out.

Al-Zahar expressed his support for sending a "Palestinian delegation" to Egypt in order to explain the Palestinian position, adding that Hamas stands on "equal distance" from all political actors in Egypt.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at the group's main headquarters in Cairo's Mokattam to discuss issues of mutual concern.

According to a statement published on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official Facebook page, the meeting tackled several issues, including Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons, the situation in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the future of reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.

“Meshal confirmed that Hamas along with the Palestinian people respects the interests and security of Egypt,” read the statement, adding that the Hamas government does not intend to interfere in any of Egypt’s internal affairs, as “Egypt represents strong support for the Palestinian cause in the past, present and future.”

According to the statement, Meshal told Badie that he is in touch with Egyptian authorities, including the presidency and the general intelligence service, to coordinate in serving Egypt’s national security.

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