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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More