February 10, 2013 - 1:00am


Hamas government has criticized the Egyptian "restrictions" on the movement of people through Rafah crossing Sunday, which got intensified in the last couple of weeks.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Egypt banned several government officials and members of Islamic Hamas movement from travelling through its territory.

Rafah is the only gate linking the Gaza Strip to the outside world. The other crossing, Erez, goes through Israel and travelling through it is severely restricted to humanitarian cases and some businessmen.

The official said the Egyptian side presented no justification for turning back more travellers to Gaza.

He also noted that the Egyptian troops had intensified their raids on smuggling tunnels beneath Gaza's southern border with North Sinai.

Moreover, Egypt has suspended transferring Qatari-donated fuel to Gaza's solo power plant for about two weeks, also without an explanation.

Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 after routing forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is a longtime ally of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Hamas, suffering isolation under Mubarak's era, was buoyed by the 2011 Egyptian turmoil, which saw the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas ' historical mother, came to power last year.

The restrictions, imposed mainly by the Egyptian security establishment, came after Egyptian media accused Hamas members of taking part in repressing protesters who gathered recently in Cairo against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

But Hamas has denied any involvement in Egypt's recent unrest.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017