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Hamas-Egypt tensions high after fisherman death

May 12, 2010 6:37 P.M. (Updated: May 14, 2010 11:22 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Tensions between Hamas and Egypt resurfaced on Wednesday following the death of a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Rafah.

The Gaza government said an Egyptian vessel was responsible for Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Bardawil's death

Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil said shortly after the incident that "Egyptian boat 94 killed the fisherman, deliberately running him over."

The official said the deceased's son, who was injured in the incident, reported that his father's body was left in the water and not retrieved until he returned to the area. The son further alleges that when he returned to the waters, he was taken by Egyptian soldiers and beaten.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry released a statement saying Egypt allows small boats to fish in Egyptian waters, denying that the fisherman's death was deliberate.

Egyptian security sources told Ma'an that an Egyptian maritime patrol identified a Palestinian fishing boat entering Egyptian waters without turning on its lights. Unable to see the small boat, the patrol crashed into it, the sources said.

A second Palestinian fishing boat was allowed to enter Egyptian waters to retrieve the boat and return it to Palestinian land, the sources added.

Al-Bardawil further said the incident was a "distortion of Egypt's image and requires condemnation from the Egyptians."

Meanwhile, the de facto Interior Ministry said it held Egypt responsible for the fisherman's death and the injury of four others, calling on Egypt's government to investigate.

Al-Bardawil was pronounced dead on arrival at the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital, said Gaza medical official Adham Abu Suleimeh.

In February, Egyptian authorities denied arresting four Gaza fishermen off the southern coast of Rafah.

"Egyptian coast guards deal with Palestinian in a humane way; if they cross into Egyptian territorial water, they are turned away without arrest because of the inhumane circumstances Palestinian fishermen are living under," a senior Egyptian security source told Ma'an at the time.

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