Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Hamas Arrests Hundreds of Extremists In Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt. Photo: Reuters

Ramallah – Hamas is launching one of its largest campaigns against extremist movements in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian party has arrested in the past few weeks around 350 members of extremist movements, while it was still chasing others in an attempt to stop their expansion in the Strip.

Informed Palestinian sources in Gaza asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the Hamas campaign has two motives: The first is the presence of information that some movements were planning explosions against Hamas security positions and the second is the presence of links between those extremists and some groups operating in Sinai, an area that constitutes a source of tension between Cairo and Hamas.

Cairo again asked for some information related to wanted Egyptian nationals, whom the Egyptian intelligence says had escaped to Gaza after the collapse of former President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt demands from Hamas some answers to questions previously asked by its intelligence. Cairo says those answers are a precondition to building new bridges between Cairo and the party, which was repeatedly accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The sources also asserted that the Egyptian intelligence believes there is collaboration between some groups in Gaza and other extremist groups in Sinai. The Egyptian intelligence has already presented to Hamas names and information in this regard.

Hamas has denied reports about the presence of wanted Egyptian nationals in Gaza. The party had informed Cairo that no Egyptians had entered the Strip at any previous phase and that there is also no presence of Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Sinai events, not even at the Palestinian Civil prison.

However, Egypt is not convinced by Hamas’ answers. Egyptian leaders had already annulled meetings planned in this regard with Hamas officials.

According to the same sources, Hamas’ investigations with those belonging to the so-called “Jihadist salafist movements” focus on the presence of such a relation with their peers in Sinai.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities on Saturday exceptionally reopened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days.

Students, patients and foreign residency holders will be allowed to cross the terminal during the three-day period.