Hamas denies plans to breach border

Earlier, report claim fatwa issued allowing firing on Egypt's troops, plans of another border breach.

Sami Abu Zuhri 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
Sami Abu Zuhri 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2 [file])
Hamas has reassured the Egyptians that the movement has no plans to breach the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said Tuesday. The move came following reports that Hamas had prepared a plan to breach the border for the second time since the beginning of the year. Egyptian political and security officials have repeatedly warned Hamas over the past few days that Cairo would not tolerate another breach of its border. Over the weekend, the Egyptians sent a "final warning" to the Hamas leadership and beefed up its security presence along the border with the Gaza Strip, the officials said. "Hamas does not have any plans to knock down the border or target Egyptian border guards," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "All what has been published in this regard is based on rumors. We believe that Israel is behind these rumors." Abu Zuhri also denied that Hamas had deployed weapons along the border with Egypt in anticipation of a possible confrontation with the Egyptian security forces. "Anyone can go to the border and see that we don't have any weapons there," he said. "We are afraid that such rumors would give the Egyptian security forces a green light to open fire at any Palestinian who comes close to the border." However, the Hamas spokesman warned that his movement was determined to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and would choose the "right time" to do so. "In addition to Israel, the Arab leaders are responsible for the continued closure of the Gaza Strip because they can reopen the Rafah border crossing," he said. Quoting "reliable" Palestinian sources, Egypt's semi-official daily Al-Ahram reported Tuesday that Hamas has just finished preparing a plan to storm the border with Egypt. It said the first phase of the plan calls for launching mortar rockets at Egyptian military bases. Earlier this week, Hamas deployed mortar rockets and dispatched gunmen to the border, the report said. The second phase of the plan, according to Al-Ahram, calls for opening fire from automatic weapons at Egyptian border guards in line with a fatwa (Muslim religious decree) that was issued in the Gaza Strip last week and which permits Palestinians to shoot at Egyptian soldiers. The third phase of the alleged plan envisages Hamas militiamen infiltrating the border through underground tunnels and blowing up Egyptian military bases. Simultaneously, Palestinians would blow up large parts of the border and start pouring into Egypt. The report said Hamas had planted explosives in a four-kilometer area along the border in preparation for implementing its plan. It said Hamas was coordinating its moves with some Arab and Islamic countries, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whose supporters would organize protests to embarrass the Egyptian government.