Terror group Hamas sent forces to the Egypt-Gaza border to illustrate to Cairo that it isn’t aiding an Islamic State branch, the Wilayat Sinai, in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt has long accused Hamas of aiding the Wilayat Sinai by means of providing them a safe haven, smuggling weapons across the border through its network of tunnels and most recently, its training in military tactics by Hamas commanders.
Hamas adamantly denies the charge and because of an agreement reached with Egyptian officials last month, agreed to deploy its forces along the border. Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri said,
“This emphasizes the Palestinian stand to tighten security on the border and nothing that harms Egypt will come out of Gaza.”
An anonymous Egyptian security official stated that the Hamas deployment is part of the agreement with Egypt that outlines Hamas cease its tunnel construction in return for ‘opening the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world.’
On Thursday, armed Hamas forces began patrolling the eight mile border (13 kilometers) as part of its agreement with Egyptian officials. Egypt has been fighting the Wilayat Sinai since 2014 and launched an offensive campaign directed at the destruction of the Gaza tunnel systems that destroyed a majority of them; this in addition to keeping the the Rafah crossing largely closed off as well.
Egyptian officials also placed blame on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood for the assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor in Cairo. Hamas’ Abu Zuhri stated he hopes this new deal will lead to the crossing’s reopening.
Did Egypt just allow the fox into the hen house or is there something deeper going in relations between Hamas and Egypt? Have a theory to share? Sound off in the comments below!