Hamas rejects Egyptian demand to stop Gaza border protests
Hamas has rejected an Egyptian request to halt the weekly demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Palestinian sources said on Saturday.
The sources said that Egyptian intelligence officials who met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City last Thursday also demanded that the protesters stay at least 500 meters away from the border. However, Hamas also rejected this demand, the sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
On Friday, Palestinians again demonstrated near the border, some of whom tried to cross the security fence. Sources in the Gaza Strip said approximately 130 Palestinians were injured by gunfire and tear-gas inhalation.
Several Palestinians who were at the demonstration commented that the number of demonstrators was smaller than in prev ious weeks. They also pointed out that the protesters dispersed earlier than usual, raising speculation about a possible secret deal between Hamas and Egypt.
âThe Egyptians made it clear to Hamas that Israel was this time more serious than ever and would use unprecedented force if the violence continues along the border,â said a Palestinian political analyst in the Gaza Strip. âApparently, Hamas issued instructions to its supporters to keep a low profile.â
Shortly before the protests began, the organizers of the âGreat March of Return" (the name Palestinians use to call the protests that began March 30) urged Palestinians to âmaintain the peaceful and popularâ nature of the demonstrations.
Taher a-Nunu, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said the weekly demonstrations will continue, but only in a âpeaceful and popularâ manner. He denied that the Egypt had asked Hamas to stop the protests.
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU: < br/>Meanwhile, a source close to Hamas said that Gen. Abbas Kamel, head of Egyptâs Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Service), may visit the Gaza Strip and Ramallah next week as part of Cairo's ongoing effort to achieve a truce between Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel. Kamel is also hoping to persuade Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasâs ruling Fatah faction to resolve their dispute, and agree to the formation of a national unity government, the source added.
Kamelâs scheduled to visit Ramallah and the Gaza Strip last week was canceled after two Grad rockets were launched at Israel last Wednesday. One of the rockets fell near a house in Beersheba, while the second fell into the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv.
The Egyptian intelligence officials who did meet with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip last Thursday later traveled to Ramallah, where they held talks with senior Fatah officials.
After the talks in Ramallah, Fatah officials launched a scathing attack on Hamas and accused it holding the residents of the Gaza Strip hostage. They also accused Hamas of thwarting Egyptâs effort to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.
Fatah spokesman Atef Abu Seif said that Hamas was seeking a truce deal with Israel instead of ending the power struggle with Fatah. Abu Seif accused Hamas of âpaving the way for the US administration and Israel to passâ US President Donald Trumpâs unseen plan for peace in the Middle East, which the US administration has called the âdeal of the century.â
The Fatah spokesman claimed that Hamas has hijacked the weekly demonstrations along the border with the Gaza Strip in order to serve its own interests and conduct negotiations with Israel about a truce.
Majed Fityani, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that Hamas had become a âfront for a demonic alliance led by the US administration and Israel, whose goal is to undermine the Palestinian national project and preserve the occupation.â
Fityani told the PAâs Voice of Palestine radio station that Hamas was seeking to further separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. Hamas and Israel, he charged, have a common interest in maintaining the status quo in Gaza.
Responding to the Fatah charges, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the attacks reflected Fatahâs concern over Hamasâs success in ârestoring the momentum to the Palestinian cause.â Fatah, he said, has lost its credibility because of its adherence to security coordination with Israel in the West Bank. ââ®
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