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Official: Egypt never asked Hamas to quit armed struggle

March 7, 2013 4:53 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2013 4:48 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt has not asked Hamas to abandon its armed struggle against Israel, a spokesman for the party said Thursday.

"Hamas will not leave the armed struggle, and will not respond to this fabricated news," Salah al-Bardawil told Ma'an.

Israel's Ynet news reported Thursday that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leadership had asked Hamas to "implement jihad in other ways" in order to gain international legitimacy.

"The Egyptian leadership knows quite well that it is unacceptable to ask the Palestinian people to abandon their key tool to defeat the occupation," al-Bardawil said.

The Hamas spokesman said there was a media campaign in Egypt and Israel to attack the leadership in Cairo and Gaza. The Egyptian opposition wants to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood by portraying Hamas as a burden to Egypt's security, he said.

In February, Egypt began flooding and sealing smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip. Cairo said it was cutting arms smuggling that was destabilizing the Sinai peninsula, but it also cut a lifeline to the enclave's blockaded residents.

Al-Bardawil said the tunnel network was a response to exceptional circumstances due to Israel's blockade, but insisted it did not undermine Egypt's security.

Hamas seeks to preserve Egypt's security as it maintains Palestine's security, he added.

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