Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip accused Islamic Jihad and Fatah militiamen over the weekend of working to thwart Egypt's efforts to mediate a truce between the Palestinians and Israel.
The officials told The Jerusalem Post
that Cairo was planning to make one final effort this week to achieve a truce that would also include a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel.
"Egypt's efforts to achieve a cease-fire have thus far failed to produce results because of Israel's refusal to reopen the [Gaza] border crossings," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "Hamas has done everything to ensure the success of the Egyptian initiative, but Israel is continuing to drag its feet."
Abu Zuhri called on Gazans to prepare to "break the siege," hinting that Hamas planned to breach the border with Egypt for the second time this year.
"All the options are open and we won't allow the siege to continue," he said. "We are determined to end the siege and the world must expect great developments."
Noting the increased cooperation between Islamic Jihad and Fatah in the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials said the alliance was jeopardizing efforts to achieve a cease-fire.
"Some elements in Islamic Jihad and Fatah are trying to escalate the situation so as to embarrass the Hamas government and foil the Egyptian truce initiative," the Hamas officials said, adding that the two groups were behind the latest spate of rocket attacks on Israel. "We have warned them against their actions, but they haven't complied."
According to the officials, militiamen belonging to Islamic Jihad's armed wing, al-Quds Brigades, and the armed wing of Fatah, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, have been openly challenging Hamas and its security forces in the Gaza Strip.
The officials pointed out that Islamic Jihad last week arrested a number of Palestinians on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel and was planning to execute them in a public square in the coming days.
After repeated requests by Hamas, over the weekend Islamic Jihad finally handed over two of the alleged collaborators to Hamas's security forces, but kept the rest in custody.
For its part, Islamic Jihad accused Hamas of being behind an attempt to kidnap three of its senior operatives in the southern Gaza Strip last Friday.
The three - Raed Nassar, Iyad Kahlout and Mueen Faresm - were severely beaten by masked gunmen as they emerged from a mosque following Friday prayers in Deir el-Balah.
According to Islamic Jihad officials, the kidnap attempt was organized by members of Hamas's security forces. Following the incident, armed clashes erupted between Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters across the Gaza Strip, they added. No casualties were reported.
Denying the allegations, Hamas said the clashes erupted as a result of an "internal dispute" in Islamic Jihad.