Mecca (archives)
Photo: AFP

Hamas accuses Egypt of planning hajj travel ban

Islamist group says some leaders banned from entering Egypt on way to Mecca. Spokesman: Decision politically motivated, unjustified

Hamas on Friday accused Cairo of planning to bar a number of the Palestinian Islamist movement's leaders from crossing into Egypt on their way to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.


"A senior Egyptian official informed a Hamas official in Gaza about a list of Hamas leaders who are to be banned from travelling, including Salah Bardawil, Sami Abu Zuhri and myself, without explaining why," said Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas rulers.


Barhum said the decision was politically motivated and "unjustified."


Gazans wanting to take part in next month's hajj pilgrimage have to cross via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt before travelling on to Islam's holiest cities of Mecca and Medina in western Saudi Arabia.


But Egyptian security sources denied any such ban was in place, telling AFP that Hamas leaders had yet to request permits to travel via Egypt, despite an official request for a list of names.


Last month, a top Hamas security official was arrested on arrival at Cairo airport and held for nearly two weeks, in an incident which ramped up tensions between Egypt and the Islamist rulers of Israeli-blockaded Gaza.


Cairo has blamed Hamas for the failure of Egyptian mediation efforts to reconcile the Islamist group with the secular Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


It has also implied Hamas was linked to a deadly rocket attack on Israel and Jordan in August launched by militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.



פרסום ראשון: 10.15.10, 18:22
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