CAIRO: Hamas has denied reports emanating from Cairo that Egypt has severed relations with the Islamist group, but stated its objection to recent practices against the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (whose brother Yousef died in an Egyptian jail last year) said in a statement Monday that Egypt had not officially informed the group that rules Gaza of such a decision.
Abu Zuhri also told Maan News that it was “mere media speculation” but did concede that relations were currently tense due to what he called an escalation in security measures on the part of the Egyptians.
A report claimed that Egypt was severing ties with Hamas due to what it perceived was a concerted campaign against it in the Arab media.
A source in Rafah near the border with Gaza, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Daily News Egypt that coordination was still ongoing between Egypt and Hamas at the border over various issues regarding countering smuggling.
“Security cooperation and coordination is still ongoing,” the source said.
The source also refuted reports that Egypt had denied granting entry visas to Hamas officials.
The Rafah border crossing has been open for five consecutive days now and will remain open until Thursday. The crossing is opened at intermittent intervals to allow Gazans to pass through for medical treatment or to pursue their studies abroad.
Abu Zuhri told Maan that Egypt was responsible for the deaths of five Gazans, four in a smuggling tunnel when Egypt allegedly pumped gas into it and the fifth was a fisherman whose boat Hamas claims was deliberately rammed by an Egyptian naval vessel.
He also said that Egypt had detained and tortured Gazans who had participated in fighting against the Israeli offensive on in December 2008 and had later sought treatment in Egyptian hospitals.
However, this did not mean that ties had been severed, according to senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar, who told Chinese news agency Xinhua, “There is no alienation between us and the Egyptians. On the contrary, we are in ongoing contact with the Egyptian administration.”