The Egyptian authorities have refused to receive any Hamas representative unless part of a Fatah-led delegation entrusted with conducting discussions on ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier this week, the Egyptians agreed to receive a delegation formed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for talks on Cairo’s ceasefire proposal, which Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected.
The online Rai al-Youm newspaper said that the Egyptians will not see any Hamas official who is not part of a delegation headed by Fatah’s top envoy Azzam al-Ahmed.
The paper said that the Egyptians have insisted that any deal on the Gaza Strip include the return of PA security forces to the Rafah border crossing with Sinai as a precondition for opening it for humanitarian aid.
Cairo’s stance coincided with the Egyptian army’s resumption of the destruction of smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, Hamas insisted that one of its leaders participate in the discussions in Cairo as a representative of the movement and not as part of a Fatah-led delegation.
Defiant Hamas leaders in the Strip continued to talk about the movement’s victory in their war with Israel.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said that the Palestinians would soon “celebrate the victory of the Palestinian resistance.” He also predicted that Arab regimes that failed to support the Palestinians would collapse as a result of uprisings by their people.
Another senior Hamas official, Ismail al-Ashkar, claimed that his movement has succeeded in creating a “strategic change” in the conflict with Israel. He added that Hamas has managed to create a balance of deterrence vis-à-vis Israel.
In Ramallah, Abbas sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he said that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was catastrophic.
“Israel, the occupying power, continues to fallaciously invoke the right to self-defense to justify this criminal campaign against the Palestinian people,” Abbas wrote.
“Further, it persists with cynically false pretexts to justify the willful and wanton killing of women, children, and other defenseless Palestinian civilians, including the demonization and dehumanization of the victims, and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure aimed at exacting maximum punishment on the population.”