Hamas denies its gunmen are aiding Morsi in Egypt

Gaza-based daily blames Egyptian Copt organization for attempt to ‘demonize’ Palestinians

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, not seen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, not seen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

Amid rumors of Hamas involvement in support of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, a Gaza newspaper has accused a Coptic Egyptian organization of fabricating the reports in order to incite against the Islamic leaders of the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Egyptian media reported that 7,000 Hamas operatives had infiltrated the country through tunnels from Gaza to support Morsi’s ruling Freedom and Justice party, which is currently facing a massive popular uprising in the Suez region.

Hamas officials were quick to deny the Egyptian accusation.

Moussa Abu-Marzouq, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, wrote on his Facebook page that he was sorry that his organization and the Palestinians were being used as a tool in a domestic Egyptian conflict.

Hamas, Abu-Marzouq added, “stands at an equal distance from all political parties in Egypt.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum issued a statement calling the Egyptian reports “lies,” which he said aimed at “driving a wedge between Egypt and Palestine and ruining the reputation of Hamas and its fighting brigades.”

To add credence to the official denials, Hamas’s Gaza-based newspaper Felesteen on Tuesday published an investigative report exposing the “secret” of the Egyptian organization behind the anti-Hamas publications.

Reportedly, a Coptic organization called the Justice and Development Organization for Human Rights, based in Upper Egypt, was behind the incitement campaign. The organization, Felesteen charged, even supported the visit of Egyptian opposition activist Maikel Nabil to Israel.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the Arab nationalist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which focuses on Palestinian issues, claimed in an op-ed Wednesday that the Egyptian reports were simply an attempt to victimize Palestinians, the default “weakest link” of the Arab world.

“The choice of Hamas… is a meticulously calculated one. The movement is Islamist and affiliated with the Brotherhood, very close to the mother organization in Egypt,” wrote Atwan. “Therefore, its current demonization is welcomed by certain circles in Egypt which are angry at the Brotherhood and wish to topple Dr. Morsi.”

Hamas doesn’t have 7,000 fighters, Atwan added, and even if it did — they could not cross the entire Sinai Desert unnoticed by Egypt’s security forces. 

“O Egyptian noblemen,” pleaded Atwan, “have mercy on the Palestinians.”

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