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Egypt 'intentionally' ignored Hamas on Gaza ceasefire

March 13, 2014 8:01 P.M. (Updated: March 16, 2014 7:16 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt communicated with Islamic Jihad directly to broker the most recent truce with Israel and intentionally ignored Hamas, a leader for the movement as well as an Egyptian security official said on Thursday.

The decision to coordinate directly with Islamic Jihad, the militant group that launched the vast majority of Wednesday's rocket barrage on Israel, and not with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, highlights the continuing tension between Egypt's military and the party.

Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told al-Mayadeen channel that the group was "not informed by Egypt about any agreement, and the Egyptian side should have coordinated with Hamas."

An Egyptian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed to Ma'an that Egyptian national security services contacted Israel and the Islamic Jihad, but not Hamas, in order to negotiate the re-activation of the 2012 ceasefire.

He said that Egypt intentionally avoided Hamas for the first time, as they preferred to contact the Islamic Jihad directly for "their good relations and understanding."

The official said that the reason for this avoidance is because Egypt is still provoked by "Hamas' attitude towards Egypt, Hamas' interference in internal Egyptian affairs and support for violence in the Sinai."

On March 4, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas and ordered its assets seized. Hamas officials, however, denounced the move which they called "political" and "serving the Israeli occupation."

Ties between Cairo and Hamas flourished during president Mohamed Morsi's year in power but have drastically deteriorated since a military coup in July last year which saw the Muslim Brotherhood leader ousted from power.

Cairo's new military-installed authorities launched a deadly crackdown on protests by supporters of Morsi, killing in excess of 1,400 people.

Egyptian troops have also destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza used to supply the Palestinian enclave with fuel and construction materials due to Israeli restrictions.

Hamas has denied accusations by Egyptian officials that it is involved in fighting in the Sinai Peninsula, where militant attacks on security forces have surged since July.
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