Palestinians have expressed concern that Sunday night’s terror attack along
Israel’s border with the Sinai would hinder efforts to lift Egyptian
restrictions imposed on residents of the Gaza Strip.
Egypt’s decision to
shut the Rafah border crossing in the aftermath of the attack drew sharp
criticism from Palestinians.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official,
called the decision “collective punishment.” He vehemently denied that some of
the terrorists had emerged from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and other
Palestinian groups, meanwhile, dismissed claims about the involvement of
terrorists from the Gaza Strip in the attack, which resulted in the death of 16
Hamas deployed hundreds of policemen along the border
with Egypt to prevent terrorists from infiltrating into the Gaza Strip from
Sinai, Gamal Jarrah, a top Hamas security commander announced.
the Hamas government had also issued orders to close down all the underground
tunnels along the border and to do their utmost to help reveal the identity of
The Hamas government and some Palestinian groups hinted at
Israeli involvement in the attack with the aim of driving a wedge between the
Palestinians and Egypt.
Hamas security officials insisted that none of
the terrorists who carried out the Sinai attack had come from the Gaza Strip.
However, the officials did not say who they believed was behind it.
spokesman for the Hamas government claimed the attack was an Israeli “attempt to
tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge between the Egyptians and the
residents of the Gaza Strip.”
The spokesman said allegations about the
involvement of Palestinians in the terror attack had been aimed mainly at
inciting the Egyptian people against the residents of the Gaza Strip and the
“This is a despicable crime that only serves the
interests of the Zionist enemy,” the Hamas spokesman said.
that Israeli agents were behind the attack.”
Another Hamas official
pointed out that the attack came only days after a “successful” meeting in Cairo
between Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Egyptian President Mohamed
At the meeting, the two agreed on a series of measures designed to
ease travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians.
Haniyeh and Morsy also
agreed that the Rafah border crossing would be open for 12 hours a day to
facilitate the travel of Palestinians.
“This attack is aimed at
destroying the achievements gained by Prime Minister Haniyeh’s visit to Cairo
last week,” the Hamas official said. “We hope that our brothers in Egypt would
not fall into the trap.”
Shortly after the attack, Haniyeh held an
emergency meeting of his cabinet and top security commanders to discuss its
repercussions and ways of avoiding a confrontation with the
Following the meeting, Haniyeh expressed readiness to assist
the Egyptians in investigating the attack.
Haniyeh also phoned the
director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Force, Murad Mawafi, and offered his
government’s help in capturing the culprits and those who had sent
“We are prepared to help in exposing the identity of the
perpetrators,” said Hamas legislator Mushir Masri.
involvement of Palestinians, Masri accused “suspicious and malicious” parties of
being behind the attack, without identifying them.
The Islamic Jihad
organization in the Gaza Strip also denied involvement, saying the attack served
only the “Israeli occupation.”
Another group, Al-Jama’ah Al- Islamiya
[The Palestinian Group], claimed that Israeli “intelligence forces” had been
behind the attack.
Tarek Zumar, a spokesman for the group, claimed that
Israel was behind all recent terror attacks against the Egyptians “because it
wanted to make changes along its border with Egypt.”