Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally in memory of their seven comrades, who were killed when a tunnel collapsed close to the Gaza Strip's eastern border with Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas has been building up its security apparatus near the Egyptian and Israeli border in an attempt improve ties with Cairo, AFP reported Saturday.
After three years of cantankerous relations, the ruling power in the coastal enclave has signaled to Cairo its willingness to tackle security challenges plaguing the Sinai Peninsula by building military checkpoints and sending hundreds of additional security forces to its southern border.
Ties between Hamas and Cairo quickly deteriorated in 2013 after the ouster of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi
, head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Since then, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has taken a tough line with the terror organization, accusing Hamas of supporting jihadist attacks against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, according to AFP.
In response, Cairo has largely cut off access to Gazans looking to cross into its territory, while Egyptian forces have taken measures to destroy hundreds of Palestinian smuggling tunnels used to bring in weapons, commercial goods and cash, AFP added.
But now after years of rancor, Hamas has taken steps to improve ties with Cairo with its latest gesture coming in the form of an additional 600 militia fighters along the Egyptian border to bolster security.
Hamas has also, for the first time, set up military checkpoints and border patrols along the frontier border with Israel, according to AFP.
An Israeli army official told AFP in response to the recent advancements that they are "closely watching the developments in Gaza... including the addition of outposts along the fence".
Last year, access through the Rafah border was allowed only 21 times, the worst in recent years, according to a report by Hamas' Interior Ministry attained by AFP.