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Hamas denies participation in fighting in Egypt and Syria

Gaza PM Ismail Haniyeh denies Hamas involvement in the conflicts in the Egyptian Sinai and Syria, reiterating that Hamas' focus is on domestic issues

AFP , Saturday 19 Oct 2013
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, gestures as he delivers a speech in Gaza City 19 October, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The Gaza Strip's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh denied on Saturday reports that the Islamic militant group was involved in fighting in the neighbouring Egyptian Sinai or in Syria.

"We did not interfere in the affairs of any country and are not involved in the events or differences or internal conflicts of any country," Haniyeh said.

"This (is) our position regarding what has happened and is happening in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and all Arab and Islamic countries," he said.

"We are not involved in any incident," he added. "Neither in the Sinai or elsewhere. We only act in the Palestinian arena and our guns are turned only toward the Zionist enemy."

He called on the media to stop their "baseless" accusations against Hamas, which he said "is proud to have taken from its first day a principled and moral position for the people and their suffering and their right to freedom, democracy and dignity."

Haniyeh made the remarks during a speech marking two years since captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, feted in Gaza as a victory for the "resistance."

Relations between Cairo and Hamas have deteriorated since 3 July, when the Egyptian army ousted president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in which Hamas has its roots.

Since then, the Egyptian army has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip, which supplied the Palestinian territory with food and construction materials.

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