Hamas on Tuesday accused its rivals in Fatah of exploiting the Sinai terror attack to incite the Egyptians against the Islamist movement and the residents of the Gaza Strip.

The allegation came after two prominent Fatah officials in the West Bank held Hamas responsible for Sunday night’s attack in which unidentified terrorists killed 16 Egyptian border guards.

Hamas has denied any link to the attack, which has strained relations between the movement and Egyptian authorities.

One of the Fatah officials, Jamal Nazzal, was quoted as saying that Hamas has territorial ambitions in Sinai, while a second one, Ahmed Assaf, said the attack was a “natural extension to what is going on in the Gaza Strip.”

Assaf said Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip five years ago has brought much damage to the Palestinians “and today we are seeing that it is beginning to affect Egypt.”

He also accused Hamas of encouraging “jihadi” groups in the Gaza Strip to carry out crimes like the one perpetrated against the border guards earlier this week.

Assaf highlighted Hamas’s use of the underground tunnels along the border with Egypt not only for smuggling goods, fuel, drugs and people, but also in order to enrich some of its leaders.

Adel Abdel Rahman, a political analyst affiliated with Fatah, claimed that the terrorists who carried out the attack came from the Gaza Strip and Sinai.

He said the underground tunnels were being used to smuggle terrorists into Egypt.

Rahman also urged the Egyptians to hold Hamas and other extremist groups in the Gaza Strip fully responsible for the terror attacks and attempts to undermine Egyptian sovereignty.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the allegations as “irresponsible and immoral.” He said Fatah was using the attack to incite the Egyptians against Hamas and the residents of the Gaza Strip, in order to maintain the blockade.

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