Egyptian, Hamas tensions increase

Two Gaza Strip-based Hamas officials heading for Egypt to partake in reconciliation talks with Fatah banned from entering.

Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah 370 (photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah 370
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
In yet another sign of increased tensions between the two sides, the Egyptian authorities on Sunday banned two Hamas officials from entering Egypt.
The two, Salah Bardaweel and Ismail Ashkar, were turned back by Egyptian security officers as they tried to enter Egypt though the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.
Bardaweel and Ashkar are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Hamas officials said that the two men were on their way to Cairo for talks with Fatah leaders on ways of achieving reconciliation.
The officials blamed Egypt’s General Intelligence Service of being behind the decision to ban the Hamas legislators from entering the country.
This was the first time since Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi was elected, that top Hamas officials were banned from entering Egypt.
Several Hamas leaders and officials have visited Cairo since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian authorities did not offer any explanation for why the two men were banned from entering Egypt.
The Palestinian Legislative Council condemned the ban, saying it contradicted “all diplomatic and national protocols.”
The council called on the Egyptians to “put an end to the suffering of Palestinians” who travel through the Rafah terminal.
Bardaweel also condemned the decision to ban him and his friend from entering Egypt. He said that the visit was coordinated with the Egyptian authorities last week.