Senior Hamas official, Ahmad Yousef, demanded the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip to closely monitor all activities of Salafist Islamic groups in order to prevent Israel from infiltrating them through its collaborators. He added that such an infiltration pushes these groups to carry out attacks similar to the deadly attack against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai Sunday leading to the death of 16 soldiers.
Yousef stated that such attacks are aimed at sabotaging the relations between the Hamas movement and the newly elected Egyptian government, in addition to sabotaging the security situation in the coastal region.
Talking to the Maan News Agency, Yousef stated that the attack mainly aims at pushing Egypt into reconsidering its recent decision regarding easing the restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip.
“These groups are delusional, targeting our brothers in blood and belief”, he said, “Such groups are abusing the freedom of religion in Gaza, and are recruiting unemployed youths in order to carry out such criminal attacks, therefore we must monitor these groups to protect them from any infiltration”.
He also said that the security situation in Sinai was better off during the rule of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, and stated that “the security measures in Sinai fell apart when Mubarak was removed from power” adding that there are currently less Egyptian soldiers and security officers along the border area.
Yousef further stated that Israel managed to infiltrate Bedouin communities in Sinai and recruited youths to carry out such attacks.
He attributed the sharp increase of Salafist groups in Sinai to the large area across the border with Jordan, the Red Sea, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.
“This allowed members of these groups to infiltrate Sinai and to freely operate there”, Yousef added, “The Hamas movement has nothing to do with such attacks or groups, and always cooperated with Egypt, in addition to handing the Egyptian security forces several Salafists who infiltrated into Gaza through tunnels across the border”.
He concluded by stating that this attack will not sabotage the Hamas-Egypt relations, but also called on Egypt to reconsider the Camp David peace agreement with Israel in order to be able to deploy more soldiers in the area as the agreement limits deployment of Egyptian soldiers.
As for the closure of the Rafah border terminal between Gaza and Egypt, Yousef said that the problem is not in border terminals but in the infiltration of Salafist groups into Gaza through tunnels across the border area.
Yet, he said that it is very unlikely that the Hamas-led government in Gaza will close and demolish all siege-busting tunnels along the border, adding that “a lot of these tunnels are useless, but we cannot completely shut them down as long as the Israeli siege is still imposed on the Gaza Strip”.