In yet another sign of increased tensions between the two sides, the Egyptian
authorities on Sunday banned two Hamas officials from entering Egypt.
two, Salah Bardaweel and Ismail Ashkar, were turned back by Egyptian security
officers as they tried to enter Egypt though the Rafah border crossing with the
Bardaweel and Ashkar are elected members of the Palestinian
Hamas officials said that the two men were on their
way to Cairo for talks with Fatah leaders on ways of achieving
The officials blamed Egypt’s General Intelligence Service
of being behind the decision to ban the Hamas legislators from entering the
This was the first time since Muslim Brotherhood President
Mohamed Morsi was elected, that top Hamas officials were banned from entering
Several Hamas leaders and officials have visited Cairo since the
ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian authorities did
not offer any explanation for why the two men were banned from entering
The Palestinian Legislative Council condemned the ban, saying it
contradicted “all diplomatic and national protocols.”
The council called
on the Egyptians to “put an end to the suffering of Palestinians” who travel
through the Rafah terminal.
Bardaweel also condemned the decision to ban
him and his friend from entering Egypt. He said that the visit was coordinated
with the Egyptian authorities last week.