Hamas: Egypt trying to restore rule over Gaza

Hamas officials blame Fatah for "smear" campaign in Egypt press, decry Egyptian helicopter flights over Gaza Strip.

Egyptian army helicopter over Alexandria 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
Egyptian army helicopter over Alexandria 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)
Hamas is concerned that Egypt may be trying to restore its sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, said Monday.
Abu Marzook wrote on his Facebook page that by sending helicopters to fly over the Gaza Strip, “Egypt is signaling that it trying to restore its sovereignty over the area, which it lost after the 1967 aggression.”
Over the past few days, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip reported that Egyptian military helicopters flew over certain parts of the Gaza Strip as part of a massive security crackdown on terror groups in Sinai.
Palestinians said that this was the first time since 1967 that Egyptian military helicopters had flown over the Gaza Strip, which until then was under Egyptian control.
Abu Marzook reiterated that Hamas was not meddling in any way in Egypt’s internal affairs.
Hamas’s armed wing does not operate outside the Palestinian territories, he added in response to reports in a number of Egyptian media outlets claiming that Hamas militiamen were behind terror attacks on Egyptian troops and civilians.
“Our resistance is only directed against [Israeli] occupation,” Abu Marzook said. “For the one-thousandth time we state that these are lies and fabrications.”
Mahmoud Zahar, another top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, held Fatah responsible for the anti-Hamas campaign waged by the Egyptian media.
Zahar too said that his movement does not interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.
Zahar said that Fatah representatives have been feeding the Egyptian media with “lies” in order to drive a wedge between Egypt and Hamas.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the “smear” campaign waged by some Egyptian newspapers and TV stations against Palestinians in general and his movement in particular.
“The Palestinians have no security or political role in the Egyptian arena,” Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza City.
“Our goal is to liberate Palestine and expel the occupier. We don’t interfere in the affairs of others and we want Egypt to continue supporting our cause.”
Haniyeh said that his government has asked the Egyptian authorities to stop the attacks on Palestinians in the Egyptian media, adding that this campaign was harmful to both sides.
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, insisted that Hamas was meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs.
He pointed out that Hamas-affiliated TV stations have been broadcasting live coverage of demonstrations in Egypt in favor of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Assaf called on Hamas to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt of other Arab countries, saying this was causing grave damage to Palestinians.
Fatah has come out in support of the military coup that toppled Morsi, while Hamas continues to support the ousted president.
Hamas officials, meanwhile, accused the Egyptian authorities of tightening the siege on the Gaza Strip by destroying smuggling tunnels and closing the Rafah border crossing.
Last week, the Egyptians also banned Palestinian fishermen from entering three areas close to Sinai.
“Even [former Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak did not starve the Gaza Strip,” said a Hamas official. “By destroying the tunnels without providing an alternative, the Egyptians are punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip and deepening the humanitarian and economic crisis.”
Ahmed Yusef, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, expressed hope that his movement would “understand the lessons of the events in Egypt and see the impending danger.”
Yusef said that Hamas should seek reconciliation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah “even if that means making concessions.”
He added: “What is happening in Egypt should sound an alarm bell for all. We need to draw the conclusions quickly, end divisions and achieve national unity.”