CAIRO: Egypt claims to have uncovered the identity of the snipers that killed Egyptian border guard Ahmed Shaaban and will request that Hamas arrest them, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the press Monday.
“We know their names and we shall request that they be apprehended, he said, “and we shall see how Hamas deals with this matter.
Shaaban, 22, was shot during a Jan. 6 demonstration when Gazans amassed near the Salahuldin Gate at the border town of Rafah. It was the same time the Viva Palestina convoy was entering the Strip.
Initially Egypt had claimed that Palestinian snipers from inside the Gaza Strip affiliated with Hamas shot Shaaban. However, since then an alternative theory has come out that Shaaban was shot by friendly fire from the Egyptian side.
A source in North Sinai previously told Daily News Egypt, “There is much speculation on how Shaaban died, but the health officer in North Sinai says two bullets entered his body, one under the arm from behind and another straight in from the back.
Additionally, regarding the recent Israeli announcement that they were to build a barrier along the border with Egypt, Aboul Gheit reiterated his spokesman Hossam Zaki’s comments from the previous day, saying that it was not Egypt’s concern.
Aboul Gheit added, “Israel is building this wall on its own land and there is no connection between it and Egyptian construction on our border. This involves Israel alone and whoever tries to connect it with something illusory will have nothing to talk about.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced the decision to erect a new barrier over 100 km of the Egypt-Israel border late last Sunday. Egyptian construction of a new underground wall along its border with Gaza began a few weeks ago, to put an end to the tunnels used for smuggling goods and services as well as weapons.
Commenting on recent press reports that Israel was considering attacking Gaza again in a repeat of last year’s offensive dubbed Operation Cast Lead 2, the Foreign Minister warned strongly against such a move.
“This is something we warn against, Aboul Gheit said, “and we warn Israel from any action against Gaza and to cease all military incursions on the Strip. On the other hand, we ask our brothers in Hamas not to provoke Israel with rockets that do not achieve anything.
Gaza has been under siege for over two and half years, since Hamas took control of the region from rival faction Fatah.
On “El-Beit Beitak terrestrial television program Monday night, Aboul Gheit said that to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis would mean the recognition of Hamas as the rulers in Gaza, which goes against Egypt’s obligations towards Israel and the international community.
The Foreign Minister added that Egypt was going ahead with its attempts to boost the peace process. However, Netanyahu put up a new obstacle when he announced Tuesday in a statement from his office that Israel would not give up East Jerusalem to become a capital of a future Palestinian state.
In the statement, it was said that Israel would never retreat to the 1967 borders, a condition of the current road map plan.
These comments are in direct contradiction with comments Aboul Gheit made last week, when he said that Netanyahu was ready to discuss making East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine.