Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Israel inciting division between Hamas and Egypt– Al-Masri | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Hamas Movement has warned that Tel Aviv is trying to bolster the legitimacy of its blockade of the Gaza Strip by accusing the Hamas movement of being behind the recent rocket attacks on the Israeli port city of Eliat from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Hamas senior figure Mushir al-Masri claimed that the Israeli insistence on making “false” accusations against the Hamas movement, particularly with regards to involvement in the recent Eliat rocket attacks, aims to put pressure on the international community to continue the blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Hamas lawmaker also stressed that the Palestinian movement’s strategy is now based on limiting its resistance operations against the Israeli occupiers, not the opposite.

Al-Masri said that Israel is aware that it is unable to provide any evidence to corroborate its accusations in this regard, and has therefore instigated a propaganda campaign to drive a wedge between Hamas and Egypt in order to prevent desperately-needed aid from reaching the Gaza Strip. He asserted that “we have demonstrated via practical experience that the land of Palestine is the only battleground upon which we fight occupation, and we are not interested in moving this battle ground anywhere else.” Al-Masri added that the Israeli accusations “falls within the framework of attempts to drive a wedge between the Hamas movement…and the Egyptian leadership.”

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Tel Aviv is in a state of panic due to the changes brought about by the Arab Spring, particularly as the Israeli decision-makers are well-aware that these changes will ultimately lead to an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip. He stressed that the regional changes have prompted Israel to instigate a propaganda campaign against the Hamas movement in an attempt to mislead the international community. As for why Israel is attempting this subterfuge, al-Masri said that this was because Tel Aviv is now well-aware that the Arab people, as well as the new Arab regimes, will not permit the continuation of the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli sources have stressed that the General Staff of the Israeli Army ordered the establishment of several short-term measures to counter rocket attacks from the Sinai Peninsula targeting southern Israel, and particularly the port of Eliat.

Israeli media outlets claimed that “agents of Hamas – who in turn are supported by Iran – are responsible for the rocket attacks targeting Eliat carried out from the Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to disrupt the Israeli – Egyptian peace treaty.”

Israel has said that it is implementing a number of procedures to protect Eliat, which has a population of 30,000.

The source said that these procedures include the deployment of an early warning system to warn of rockets fired at the city, as well as the deployment of an anti-rocket defence system.

A number of rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula into the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eliat in early April causing no injuries. This attack prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn that Israel would “hit those who hit us.”

Israel’s chief of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi said that the rocket attacks on Eliat represented “an expression of the fundamental change sweeping over the region (of Sinai)” adding “the terror groups continue to base themselves there and strengthen their hold.”

Prior to these rocket attacks, armed infiltrators killed eight Israelis on the Egyptian frontier. In the ensuing search for the gunmen, Israeli troops shot and killed six Egyptian police officers along the border, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Israel claimed the attack was orchestrated by Palestinian militants.

Israel is also building a fence along its southern border to fend off infiltration attempts. When completed, this barrier will run most of the 266 km (165 miles) from Eliat on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba to the blockaded Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean.