Egyptian authorities have barred Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh from traveling outside the Gaza Strip and Egypt for almost three years to prevent him from meeting with their political rivals, a senior official in the terror group said in an interview published Tuesday.
The last time Haniyeh traveled beyond Gaza and Egypt was in late 2016 and early 2017 before he was elected Hamas head.
“The Egyptians are not permitting the head of the politburo to travel abroad because they do no want him to meet their political rivals,” Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior official in the terror group, told Dar al-Hayat, an Arabic-language news site. “This ban [has been in place] for about the last three years.”
Hamas, which frequently meets with Egyptian intelligence officials mediating between the terror group that rules the Strip and Israel, also maintains close ties with countries that Cairo views as foes such as Qatar and Turkey.
On Monday, Dar al-Hayat reported that a Hamas delegation including senior leaders Rawhi Mushtaha and Khalil al-Hayya would travel to Cairo on Wednesday for talks with senior Egyptian intelligence officials and then likely travel to Qatar and Turkey, citing “trusted sources” in the terror group.
That report made no mention of Haniyeh.
Haniyeh lives in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza. Khaled Meshaal, his predecessor, never lived in the West Bank or Gaza while he served as Hamas chairman.
In January, a trip Haniyeh planned to make to Russia to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was postponed.
At the time, Abu Marzouk tweeted that he and Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and presidential Middle East envoy, had discussed over the phone “the postponement of the chairman of the Hamas Politburo’s visit to another time because of the [Russian] foreign minister’s busy state of affairs.”
Abu Marzouk’s tweet made no mention of Egypt preventing Haniyeh from traveling to Russia.
Egypt controls the only crossing out of the Gaza Strip apart from Israel’s.
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