Hamas bolsters forces on Gaza-Egypt border at Cairo's request

According to Hamas's Interior Ministry, the maneuver was enacted in order to "find points of collaboration with Egyptian forces on the border."

April 21, 2016 17:31
1 minute read.
 Gaza Strip

An Egyptian soldier keeps guard on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Hamas-run government in Gaza on Thursday redeployed its forces along the border with Egypt in a move allegedly intended to increase security on the volatile frontier, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

According to Hamas's Interior Ministry, the maneuver was enacted in order to "find points of collaboration with Egyptian forces on the border."

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Ma'an cited Hamas General Hussain abu-Aadrah as saying "the border forces were increased at Egypt's request in order to emphasize positive neighborly relations." He said four battalions were deployed to the border in order to improve security, apparently alluding to the deterrence of cross-border terror activities.

Another Hamas commander, Tawfiq Abu Naim, said the placement of the group's forces stood as a confidence-building measure slated to demonstrate that Egypt's security won't crumble on Gaza's behalf.

Relations between Hamas and the government in Cairo have been tense for years as Egypt has accused the Palestinian terrorist group of backing an insurgency of Islalmist militants in the Sinai Peninsula. Hamas has denied the allegations.

Since taking office in 2014, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has led attempts to crack down on Islamist insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. The government in Cairo declared a state of emergency in the border area in 2014 at least 33 security personnel were killed in attacks in the region bordering Gaza.

The Egyptian Army has demolished thousands of homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah during the past year to create a buffer zone with nearby Gaza, an effort by Egypt to end smuggling of arms via secret tunnels.

Egypt decided in November 2014 to double the width of the security buffer zone after an outbreak of some of the worst anti-state violence since ousted president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in 2013.

Reuters and Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.

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