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Hamas files complaint with Cairo over fishing ban

Mujahideen Shura Council, al-Qaeda-linked group responsible for Thursday’s rocket barrage, says Hamas arrested two of its members

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

A Hamas police officer stands in front of graffiti showing late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City in July. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
A Hamas police officer stands in front of graffiti showing late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City in July. (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Hamas on Friday complained to Cairo following Israel’s limitation of Palestinian access to fishing waters off the Gaza coast in response to a rocket barrage that hit southern Israel on Thursday. One of the rockets landed in the yard of a home in Sderot.

An Egyptian official confirmed that the Islamist group’s complaint was received by Cairo, and said that Jerusalem lodged a similar complaint with Egypt over the rocket attack, Reuters reported. Thursday’s cross-border fire was the second incident since a ceasefire took effect between Israel and Hamas in late November after Israel’s eight-day offensive against Palestinian terrorist groups in the Strip.

Cairo was reportedly in communication with both Hamas and Israel as part of an effort to “restore their commitment to the truce.”

Hamas also reportedly arrested two members of the al-Qaeda-linked Salafist group responsible for firing the rockets at Israel. The Mujahideen Shura Council claimed that Hamas arrested the men after the group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks.

The Salafist group said it fired the four rockets “in reaction to the visit of the dog Obama,” according to a statement the group released Thursday.

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the Gaza Strip, partially closed the Erez crossing and restricted Gaza fishing limits from six miles to three miles on Thursday in response to the rocket fire from Gaza.

Newly appointed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the restrictions on the two passageways, which serve as major conduits for goods into the coastal enclave, Israel Radio reported. The Erez crossing will only be open for the transfer of humanitarian supplies. According to the report, the two crossings will only return to full operation after an assessment of the situation, when security considerations allow it.

The attack was condemned by US President Barack Obama during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report. 

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