The abduction of four Palestinians in North Sinai “will not be tolerated”, said a Friday statement by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas.
The brigades further stressed that the abduction “will not pass unnoticed”, and that “in a timely manner, everyone will know we speak the truth”.
Hamas noted in a Thursday statement that the act “breaks all diplomatic and security norms of the Egyptian state”.
The incident occurred on Wednesday evening, when four Palestinians were abducted from a bus heading from the Rafah border crossing, between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, on its way to Cairo.
Reports claim that an armed group stopped a bus containing approximately 50 passengers, and started calling out the names of the people they then abducted. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the act. A representative from the military press office told Daily News Egypt that efforts are ongoing to find them.
Egypt opened the border crossing for four days, between Monday and Thursday, in both directions, with approximately 6,329 people crossing the border into and out of the Gaza Strip.
Relations between Hamas and Egypt deteriorated following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government.
Egypt has accused Hamas on several occasions of intervening in its internal affairs, an accusation that Hamas has always denied.
Lawsuits against the movement were filed, including accusations for a number of killings of Egyptian security personnel.
The group was also accused of storming Egyptian prisons during the events of the 25 January Revolution, and helping Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including former president Mohamed Morsi, to escape.
Tensions reached a peak when Hamas, along with the Al-Qassam Brigades, were designated “terrorist organisations” in February by a court order. Accordingly, the border between Gaza and Egypt has largely remained closed.
However, the verdict was appealed and cancelled in June.
Later in June, the border was opened for seven consecutive days before Ramadan, which suggested improving relations with Hamas.
The North Sinai towns of Rafah, Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid have witnessed a rising insurgency over the past years, particularly since Morsi’s ouster. “Islamic State” (IS) affiliates in these areas claim responsibility for the majority of insurgent activities there.