Hamas: Egypt is torturing Hamas prisoners

Senior leader of group says its members being interrogated about whereabouts of Gilad Schalit.

Rafah fed up 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Rafah fed up 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Dozens of Hamas members who were arrested in Egypt after breaching Gaza's border with Sinai in January are being tortured and held in harsh conditions, a senior Hamas leader said Wednesday. Said Siam, former interior minister in the Hamas-led government, strongly condemned Egyptian authorities for the continued detention of the Hamas men. He did not say how many Hamas members were being detained. Siam said Egyptians authorities were ignoring criminal activities along the border, focusing instead on pursuing Hamas members who did not threaten Egypt's national security. "The Egyptians are employing double standards," he said. "They don't want to fight against the smuggling of prostitutes by Fatah from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians aren't doing anything to combat the smuggling operations or crime." Siam said he was especially disturbed by the fact that the Egyptians were questioning the Hamas detainees about their activities inside the Gaza Strip. "The Egyptians aren't asking anything about what's happening inside Egypt," he said. "They have even been interrogating our men about the whereabouts of [kidnapped IDF Cpl.] Gilad Schalit." Siam said the Egyptians were also trying to get information about the movements of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other leaders of the Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip. "These are the type of questions that only Israeli interrogators would ask," Siam said. "I talked to some of the Hamas policemen who were released from Egyptian prisons and I heard horror stories about what's happening there." He appealed to Egypt to release all the Hamas men, saying that none of them had posed a threat to Egyptian security. He said he and other Hamas leaders raised the issue during recent meetings with senior Egyptian security officials in El-Arish. The allegations indicate that relations between Hamas and Egypt remain very tense two months after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians breached the border with Egypt. Siam also criticized the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, accusing its security forces of working with Israel against Hamas and other armed groups there. He said the PA was also assisting Israel in its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Egyptian officials declined comment on the report.