Analysts told Ynet Monday that the incident – which prompted massive deployment of the Egyptian military in the area, including the rare sight of helicopter gunships – underscored the complexity of the relationship between Hamas and the Salafi organizations based in Gaza; organizations that often defy Hamas' rule.
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Hamas knows that any incident involving global jihadists that can be traced back to Gaza would bring about an image problem as best – but an all out retaliation by Israel or Egypt at worst.
Global jihad groups were quick to take advantage of the chaos in Sinai, brought about by the lax security presence of Egyptian forces in the peninsula as a result of the turbulent year Egypt has been experiencing.
Rafah's smuggling tunnels have been left unchecked, for all to use at will, making a virtual mockery of Hamas border patrols and the obstacles mounted by Israel to ward away infiltrations and terror attacks.
Hamas too finds it easier to say that the recent bout of Sinai terror attacks have nothing to do with Gaza. That all ended on Sunday night.
The brutal slaying of Egyptian soldiers has resulted in a growing call to retaliate against Gaza if need be, as well as to increase the monitoring of the Rafah crossing and the tunnels.
The Hamas government was not left oblivious and was quick to both condemn the attack and state that its security forces have increased their presence on all borders. "Egypt's safety is our safety," the Islamist government's spokesman said.
Show of cooperation
It is likely that the next few days will see Hamas officials go out of their way, again, to prove to Egypt that they are cooperating with the investigation and sparing no effort in asserting their sovereignty over the region.
Egypt turning its back on the Gaza Strip is one of the worst case scenarios for Hamas. Gaza's rulers are also likely to mount their own manhunts and boast any arrests made as show of both strength and cooperation.
Meanwhile, Egyptian presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said Monday that the relations between the Egyptian government and Hamas "will not be affected by the horrible crime against Egyptian soldiers yesterday."
He added that for the time being, closing the Rafah crossing was "essential to security."
Roi Kais contributed to this report
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