A senior Hamas official has condemned the latest attack on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. Such attacks, claims Mousa Abu-Marzouk, are a ploy to push the Egyptians to keep the Rafah border crossing closed and damage relations between Hamas and the government in Cairo.
“The Rafah crossing was reopened after a long time and many appeals by different parties,” Abu-Marzouk wrote on his Facebook page. “After this attack, I am sure that there are some parties thinking of keeping the crossing closed and our relations with Cairo unresolved.” He called on Egypt not to fulfil the wishes of these “parties”, keep the crossing open and maintain links with the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine.
Earlier on Monday, the Egyptian army announced that three of its soldiers were killed and three others were wounded when their vehicle was targeted by an explosive device in Sinai. The attack took place after the authorities opened the Rafah border crossing, which has been described as the Gaza Strip’s “lifeline” to the outside world. The Palestinian authorities in Gaza said that 361 Palestinians left the territory through the crossing and 956 entered from Egypt; 37 were refused entry by the Egyptian government.
In the wake of the military coup against the elected government of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the Egyptian army has kept Rafah closed and tightened the Israeli-led siege, which has been imposed on Gaza since mid-2007.
Since the coup, the Egyptian media has accused Hamas and its military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, of carrying out attacks against targets in Egypt in an attempt to create chaos in the country. A court in Cairo declared recently that Hamas is a “terrorist organisation”; members of the movement face arrest if they try to enter Egypt.