Egypt Ignores Hamas, Talks with Islamic Jihad
Hamas was fuming on Thursday upon discovering that Egypt had communicated with the Islamic Jihad directly to broker a ceasefire with Israel, while intentionally ignoring Hamas.
The Ma’an news agency noted that the decision to coordinate directly with Islamic Jihad, which launched the vast majority of Wednesday's rocket barrage on Israel, and not with Hamas, which rules Gaza, highlights the continuing tension between Egypt's military and the group.
Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad was quoted as having told the Lebanon-based 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 that brought an end to the counterterrorism Operation Pillar of Defense.
The official added said that Egypt intentionally avoided Hamas for the first time, preferring 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."
While the government of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an “attempt to demonize Hamas”.
Egyptian troops have destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza, which are used to supply the Hamas-controlled region with fuel, construction materials, and even terrorists and weapons.
Last week, in the latest step in Egypt’s crackdown on Hamas, a court outlawed the terror group and ordered all of its assets seized.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian-brokered “ceasefire” has thus far failed, as terrorists continued to fire rockets into southern Israel long after 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, when the truce was supposed to go into effect.
As of Thursday night, at least nine rockets were fired on Israel's south from Gaza, a continuation of the escalated rocket barrage, in which roughly 100 rockets have been fired since Wednesday.
The latest attack was recorded shortly after 11:00 p.m., when a rocket fired by Gaza-based terrorists exploded in an open area of the Eshkol Regional Council on Thursday evening.
Shortly after midnight, aircraft of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked seven terror targets in Gaza.