Palestinians have expressed fear that Sunday night´s terror attack
along the Egyptian-Israeli border would hinder efforts to lift
Egyptian restrictions imposed on residents of the Gaza Strip.
Egypt´s decision to shut the Rafah border crossing in the aftermath
of the attack drew sharp criticism from Palestinians.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, described the decision
as "collective punishment." He vehemently denied that some of the
terrorists had emerged from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups, meanwhile, dismissed claims about
the involvement of terrorists from the Gaza Strip in the attack,
which resulted in the deaths of 16 Egyptian soldiers.
Hamas deployed hundreds of policemen along the border with Egypt to
prevent terrorists from infiltrating into the Gaza Strip from Sinai,
announced Gamal al-Jarrah, a top Hamas security commander.
He said that the Hamas government has also issued orders to close
down all the underground tunnels along the border and to do their
utmost to help reveal the identity of the terrorists.
The Hamas government and some Palestinian groups hinted at Israeli
involvement in the attack with the aim of driving a wedge between the
Palestinians and Egypt.
Hamas security officials insisted that none of the terrorists who
carried out the Sinai attack had come from the Gaza Strip. However,
the officials did not say who they believed was behind the terror
A spokesman for the Hamas government claimed the attack was an
Israeli "attempt to tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge
between the Egyptians and the residents of the Gaza Strip."
The spokesman said that allegations about the involvement of
Palestinians in the terror attack were mainly aimed at inciting the
Egyptian people against the residents of the Gaza Strip and the Hamas
"This is a despicable crime that only serves the interests of the
Zionist enemy," the Hamas spokesman said. "We believe that Israeli
agents were behind the attack."
Another Hamas official pointed out that the attack came only days
after a "successful" meeting in Cairo between Hamas Prime Minister
Ismail Haniyeh and President Mohamed Morsy.
At the meeting, the two men agreed on a series of measures that are
designed to ease travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians.
The two men also agreed that the Rafah border crossing would be open
for 12 hours daily to facilitate the travel of Palestinians.
"This attack is aimed at destroying the achievements gained by Prime
Minister Haniyeh´s visit to Cairo last week," the Hamas official
said. "We hope that our brothers in Egypt would not fall into the
Shortly after the attack, Haniyeh held an emergency meeting of his
cabinet and top security commanders to discuss its repercussions and
ways of avoiding a confrontation with the Egyptians.
Following the meeting, Haniyeh expressed readiness to assist the
Egyptians in investigating the attack.
Haniyeh also phoned the director of Egypt´s General Intelligence
Force, Murad Mawafi, and offered his government´s help in capturing
the culprits and those behind them.
"We are prepared to help in exposing the identity of the
perpetrators," said Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri.
Denying the involvement of Palestinians, al-Masri blamed
unidentified "suspicious and malicious" parties of being behind the
The Islamic Jihad organization in the Gaza Strip also denied
involvement, saying that attack serves only "Israeli occupation."
Another group, Al-Jama´ah Al-Islamiya [The Palestinian Group],
claimed that Israeli "intelligence forces" were behind the attack.