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PA official: Egypt settled score with Hamas
Senior Palestinian source says Cairo has been waiting to put Islamist organization in its place even since gunmen stormed Rafah crossing in January 2007. Opportunity came when Hamas and Hizbullah crossed red line with funds and arms smuggling, he tells Ynet
Egypt has been waiting to put Hamas in its place for almost a year and a half. Ever since the organization controlling the Gaza Strip broke through the Rafah crossing, a series of issues in which Hamas refused to compromise were left without a harsh response – but now, according to a senior Palestinian Authority official, things are difference.

 

The uncovering of Hizbullah's terror network in Egypt was a sign that the winds have changed.

 

The Palestinian official told Ynet that the PA was not surprised by the harsh moves taken by Egypt in response to the smuggling of weapons and funds into Gaza, as well as the handling of the joint Hamas-Hizbullah infrastructure.

 

According to the source, it was only a matter of time before the Egyptians settle the score with Hamas over its conduct since it took over the Strip.

 

"Hamas leaders were mistaken if they thought they could continue embarrassing the Egyptians on the funds and arms smuggling issue, without a response.

 

"The breaching of the Rafah crossing in January 2007 turned the Egyptian soil into a walkway for Hamas members, and the Egyptians were waiting to settle the account over that too."


 

Storming the Rafah crossing, January 2007 (Photo: AFP)

 

Egypt did give Hamas a chance to atone for its mistakes, but the Islamist organization failed to use it and thwarted the Egyptian efforts on the Gilad Shalit issue and the fragile intra-Palestinian dialogue. It appears that Cairo was waiting for an opportune moment, which came once Hamas crossed a red line.

 

"Hamas understands that Egypt's nightmare is Iranian elements on its territory," said the Palestinian source. "As long as they only operated in the Strip it they got away with it, but Iranian activity in Egypt is against all conventions, a blow which the Egyptians could not absorb and digest, so they are now settling the account with Hamas."

 

According to the official, "More than the Egyptians wish to portray (Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan) Nasrallah as a desert plunderer, they want to signal to Hamas that the days of patience are over and that they must prepare for a completely different policy, which will be much tougher."

 

First signs of the Egyptians' lack of trust in the Hamas leadership, including the political one, were seen when they arrived at the talks with Fatah and the other organizations in Cairo.

 

The Hamas delegation was the only one put under tight security, the Hamas members' possessions were searched thoroughly as if they were smugglers, and senior organization members were banned entry to Cairo. Hamas leaders said they would ask Egypt for clarifications on its "security-related" approach, but it appears that the Egyptians have not plans to compromise.

 

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