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Hamas to investigate shooting of Egyptian soldier

Jan. 6, 2010 9:51 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 8, 2010 9:01 A.M.)
Ramallah – Ma’an – De facto government security called on their Egyptian counterparts to open a parallel investigation file into the shooting death of an Egyptian soldier during Rafah border riots Wednesday.

The Hamas investigators said they had already opened a file and were looking into the incident to insure it would not be repeated, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank publicly expressed its regret over the death of the soldier, calling the act "irresponsible" and aimed at foiling Egyptian unity mediation efforts.

The riots began when Hamas officials in Rafah called a gathering in condemnation of what it called Egyptian attacks on a group of 500 activists travelling to Gaza with 220 cars and ambulances loaded with medical aid.

Palestinian ambassador to Cairo and to the Arab League Barakat Al-Farra fiercely condemned what he called “irresponsible behavior of Hamas officers against our Egyptian brothers."

In a statement, Al-Farra said “The regrettable events at the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip were planned and carried out by Hamas militias killing one of the brave Egyptian soldiers with a perfidious and cowardly gunshot. This represents utmost lowness and meanness of Hamas militias who direct their guns to Egyptian soldiers instead of directing them to Israeli soldiers who are besieging the Gaza Strip.”

Senior Hamas leader in Gaza Salah Bardawil applauded Egypt for their decision to open the crossing for the convoy, and recalled what he described as the "historic role" Egypt has played supporting the cause of Palestine. He called on the Egyptian leadership to make the mission of Viva Palestina 3 as easy as possible in order to help ease the suffering of the Gazan people. He also called on Egypt to reconsider the erection of an iron wall under the borders between Egypt and Gaza, and to open the Rafah crossing.

Bardawil also expressed regret over the death of an Egyptian soldier during what he called a peaceful demonstration at the Rafah border. He called for self-restraint and cautioned the media to avoid incitement "that would only deepen the crisis."

In Jordan, the Islamic Labor Front condemned “Egyptian assaults against the Viva Palestina 3 convoy," calling the Egyptian actions “ugly and disgraceful.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) released a statement following the Rafah border events calling on Egypt and Hamas to investigate the incident so it could be avoided in the future.

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