News / Middle East

    Hamas Seeks to Lower Tension with Egypt

    A Palestinian man drives on the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, Sept. 3, 2013.
    A Palestinian man drives on the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, Sept. 3, 2013.
    Reuters
    The Hamas Islamist group ruling Gaza sought to ease tensions with Cairo on Wednesday by ordering Muslim preachers to mute their criticism of the Egyptian government over what some of the clerics have called its war on Islam.

    “Preachers should avoid speaking of the internal affairs of Egypt and focus on our Palestinian national issues and our struggle for the liberation of our land and the freedom of our prisoners [held by Israel],” said Ismail Rudwan, the Hamas-appointed religious affairs minister in Gaza.

    He told Reuters he delivered that message in meetings he had held with scores of preachers in mosques in the southern Gaza Strip and planned to see more clerics in other parts of the Palestinian territory.

    Events in neighboring Egypt have resonated strongly in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood figure Mohamed Morsi was overthrown as president by the military in July following mass protests.

    Efforts by the army-backed government in Egypt to crush the Brotherhood and its closure of cross-border smuggling tunnels used to move weapons and goods into the Gaza Strip have dealt a major blow to Hamas.

    Gaza preachers, in fiery sermons, have accused Egypt's army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of waging war against Islam. Egyptian army officials have said Hamas is interfering in Egyptian affairs and suggested that Palestinians were helping Islamist militants in Sinai, which borders Gaza and Israel.

    Hamas denies such allegations, and Rudwan said it regards Egypt as a “strategic supporter of the Palestinian cause”. The group, spurned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence, won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Palestinians chant slogans during a rally in support of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the central Gaza Strip, August 23, 2013.Palestinians chant slogans during a rally in support of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the central Gaza Strip, August 23, 2013.
    x
    Palestinians chant slogans during a rally in support of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the central Gaza Strip, August 23, 2013.
    Palestinians chant slogans during a rally in support of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the central Gaza Strip, August 23, 2013.
    Gaza salute

    Egypt also has been angered by Gaza street rallies in which Hamas fighters have flashed a four-finger salute - a show of support for Morsi.

    His ousting was seen as a setback for Hamas, especially as the group's ties with traditional allies Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah party have also suffered over its siding with rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    In a television interview with an Egyptian channel, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official who lives in Cairo, voiced his respect for Egypt's military and described the Hamas men's gesture at the protests as a mistake.

    But there has been no sign of any easing of Egypt's border crackdown in which tunnel closures have caused fuel shortages that have forced Gaza taxi drivers to buy Israeli-imported petrol and diesel at double the Egyptian price.

    Egyptian authorities also have imposed tight restrictions at the Rafah border terminal, Gaza's main window to the world, limiting to 250 the number of Palestinians allowed to cross daily into Egypt. Some 1,200 people a day used to pass through before Morsi's removal.

    Cairo closed the crossing on Wednesday after assailants crashed two explosive-laden cars into a security building adjacent to the border area, killing six Egyptian soldiers.

    Hamas says some 5,000 people, including students planning to study in Cairo and beyond and patients seeking treatment in Egypt, are stuck in Gaza awaiting permission to cross.

    Gaza, home to 1.7 million Palestinians, is also under an Israeli blockade. In 2010, Israel began easing its economic restrictions and allowing more products into the territory through its border crossing.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora