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Report: Sinai insurgency sparks security cooperation between Hamas, Israel, Egypt

May 1, 2016 11:05 A.M. (Updated: May 18, 2016 3:35 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Responding to a mounting insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula by the Islamic State-affiliated group Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province), the Hamas movement has formed an “unlikely alliance” with Egypt and Israel, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Official Egyptian and Israeli sources told the Washington Post that growing concerns in the face of “increasingly sophisticated and daring attacks” by the Sinai Province has lead to the greatest security cooperation between Egypt’s and Israel’s military since their 1979 peace deal.

The report pointed to the hundreds of fighters deployed last week by the Hamas-lead Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip along along the frontier with Egypt.

At the time, Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesperson Iyad al-Bazm said that the deployment was a confirmation of Egypt’s security and of the stability of the border zone.

Relations between Egypt and Gaza have been tense for years, as Egypt accuses Hamas of supporting insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula -- allegations Hamas strongly denies.

Egypt has destroyed and flooded hundreds of the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula against anti-regime militants launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel.

Palestinians in Gaza have relied on underground smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border since 2007, when Israel imposed a stringent military blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas took control there.

The tunnels have since provided a vital lifeline for the besieged territory's more than 1.8 million residents.

Human Rights Watch last year slammed Egypt's military for its campaign against the tunnels, during which the group said some 3,200 families had been evicted from their homes near the border and hundreds of acres of farmland destroyed.

The group said Egypt had failed to provide adequate proof that insurgents were receiving support from Gaza.

The UN reported in February that only a few tunnels remained partially operational between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
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