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Seven Palestinians held in Cairo

Incident is latest sign of strife between Egypt and the Hamas government in Gaza

An illustrative photo of a plane preparing to land. (photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash 90)
An illustrative photo of a plane preparing to land. (photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash 90)

Seven Palestinians were arrested Wednesday at the Cairo airport after they were found to be carrying maps and other images of military buildings and sensitive sites, an Egyptian official said.

Interrogations revealed that the seven had entered Egypt via smuggling tunnels from Gaza and were on their way back from visiting Syria, after which they had moved to Iran, and then returned to Syria, Ma’an quoted the official as saying.

The suspects had forged entry visas in their passports.

In February, Egyptian news source Al-Masry Al-Youm claimed that its Interior Ministry was tracking 500 Palestinians who allegedly belong to Hamas — an offshoot of Egypt’s Islamist ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood — and had entered Egypt.

Last week, Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA reported that the prime minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, had threatened to sue Egyptian news outlets for reporting fabrications about Hamas.

Mushir al-Masri, a Gaza-based member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the government had met to discuss what it called “certain media outlets’ efforts to try to demonize Hamas,” Daily News Egypt reported. Masri said they were trying to create a rift between the Islamist group and the Egyptian government.

Several news reports over the past few months have also alleged that units of Hamas’s military wing had crossed into Egypt via Gaza’s smuggling tunnels with the purpose of creating unrest in the country.

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