'Hamas fostering terror, damaging ties with Egypt'

Former PA security chief Dahlan says Gaza "not under siege", residents "not lacking anything."

Dahlan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dahlan 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas has created the proper environment for the emergence of new terror groups in the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Dahlan, a former Palestinian security commander, said Thursday.
Dahlan, who founded and headed the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Force in Gaza between 1994 and 2000, also accused Hamas of harboring the terrorist groups and using their members to kill Fatah activists in the Strip.
Dahlan’s allegations came after Sunday night’s attack in Sinai in which unidentified gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards.
PA and Fatah officials have seized the opportunity to hold their rivals in Hamas responsible for the attack, which is believed to have been carried out by Muslim fundamentalists from Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has strongly denied any connection to the attack, insisting that the terrorists did not come from the Gaza Strip.
Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah last year following a dispute with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his sons, also criticized Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy for hosting Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in the presidential palace in Cairo last week.
Dahlan said that Haniyeh was being ungrateful to the Egyptians who honored him by treating him as a head of state.
“Instead of expressing their gratitude, Hamas and Haniyeh are working to damage Egyptian interests in Sinai,” Dahlan said in an interview with an Egyptian TV station.
Dahlan said that the tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt were a source of income for Hamas leaders who have no interest in closing them down.
The Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip do not benefit from the tunnels, Dahlan added. He called on the Egyptians to hold Hamas and its leaders, and not the entire Palestinian people, fully responsible for harboring terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and threatening Egypt’s national security.
Dahlan said that the Gaza Strip was not under siege and its residents were not lacking anything. “Hamas is laying siege to the Gaza Strip,” he charged.
Dahlan said that a pro-Hamas Sudanese minister who visited Gaza recently told him that he wished that Sudan had as much basic goods as the Strip.
Also on Thursday, Hamas claimed that the Egyptian authorities have determined that the terrorists who killed the 16 border guards did not come from the Gaza Strip.
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, said the Egyptian security forces’ investigation has also shown that the terrorists were not Palestinians and were not affiliated with Hamas.
Bardaweel claimed that supporters of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak have been trying to implicate Hamas and the Gaza Strip to embarrass Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Hamas official said that his government would be prepared to shut down all the tunnels if the Egyptians agree to permanently open the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and the southern Gaza Strip.
Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government, also appealed on Thursday to Cairo to keep the Rafah terminal open. He suggested that the border crossing be turned into a trade terminal so that it could replace the tunnels.
A-Nunu said that the Sinai terrorist attack was designed to sabotage relations between Egypt and the Palestinians.