Tough responses, including military action, will follow if Egypt feels Hamas or other parties are attempting to threaten national security, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told London-based Al-Hayat newspaper on Tuesday.
Fahmy was asked by his interviewer about the status of the Egyptian relationships with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. Fahmy answered that “there were many flaws in the former regime’s relationship with Hamas.” He added that there are doubts regarding Hamas and “other Islamic movements in Gaza” in relation to “the terroristic activity in Sinai.”
Fahmy said that “[Egypt] will not accept the torture of the Palestinian citizens in Gaza, but will strongly adhere to fulfill security and rule of law in Sinai, and especially at the borders.”
The foreign minister added that there are “negative indications from Hamas, but if Hamas shows positive intentions, it will surely find an Egyptian side that protects its Palestinian counterpart.”
While the Rafah border crossing is currently closed, Fahmy said, there is “no decision to keep it closed forever.”
Fahmy’s statements stirred reactions from Hamas, with their government’s deputy foreign minister, Ghazi Hamad, describing the comments as “dangerous, unnecessary escalation” according to Hamas’ official news agency, Al-Rai.
Hamad added that these statements contradict “Egypt’s long history in advocating for the Palestinian people” and that they would only increase the tension in the relationship between both parties. Hamad is the former chairman of the border crossings authority in the Gaza Strip
Vice-president of Hamas’ political bureau, Mousa Abumarzook, meanwhile stated that “the Rafah border crossing should not be called a crossing, because it is closed most of the time,” adding that “Hamas’ only option is to agree to the Egyptian procedures regarding the border.”
However, the prominent Hamas figure did not oppose Fatah demands that the crossing should not be open until Palestinian Presidential Guards secure the Palestinian side, saying that Hamas has agreed to these demands to “eliminate any excuse” to keep the crossing closed.
The relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the movement that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, has declined after the ousting of former president and Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013. Hamas faces formal and informal Egyptian accusations of inciting violence in Sinai, the latest being from the army spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Ali.