The split in the Palestinian camp was more pronounced this week than ever. While a Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority team sat down with Israel in Washington for US-initiated peace talks after Israel agreed to release 104 jailed Palestinians, a secret Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran to patch up the Gaza rulers’ quarrel with Iran. DEBKAfile reveals that the delegation, headed by Muhammad Nasr, included Hamas’ military wing commanders and some of the Palestinian prisoners freed to buy the release of the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit.
Our Iranian sources reveal that Iranian officials made it clear that ties with Hamas would not be severed. But if the Palestinian group wanted the flow of money and weapons restored, it must revive its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and undersign Hizballah’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict.
This was easier said than done. The Hamas delegation in Tehran was in no position for an authoritative reply, because it could only speak for one of the three sections of its bitterly divided movement, as listed by DEBKAfile sources:
1. The Politburo chief Khaled Meshaal’s party claims since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo that Hamas must henceforth obey the Brotherhood’s “world leadership” and not the leaders under military siege in Cairo.
This is obviously an equivocation since the Egyptian Brotherhood constitutes the movement’s world leadership. Taking this line invites the Egyptian military to continue its crackdown on Hamas and the sealing off of the Gaza Strip by the destruction of the smuggling tunnels to Sinai which sustained it. This operation has deprived the Hamas regime of more than half of its regular revenue and is jeopardizing its grip on the territory.
2. The second party is led by the Hamas prime minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh. He has broken relations with Meshaal and no longer defers to his authority. Haniyeh argues that his movement should not worry about its low fortunes or the enmity of many parts of the Muslim world, including the new regime in Egypt, Iran, Damascus and HIzballah, because its focus should be on holding onto power in Gaza and enhancing its authority in the local population.
Like Meshaal, Haniyeh also begs the question. How can he explain this policy when he is too broke to pay the salaries of government officials and members of the military wing, the Izzedin al Qassam Brigades.
3. The third group is headed by pro-Iranian, pro-Hizballah Mahmoud a-Zahar, along with the military wing commanders Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa and the Hamas representative in Turkey, Saleh al-Aruri, who is also in charge of Hamas operations on the West Bank.
This group maintains that Hamas lacks the strength and resources for standing up to Egypt and its Persian Gulf backers led by Saudi Arabia and must therefore run back fast to the radical Iran-Syria-Hizballah fold.
The fate and fortunes of Hamas bear strongly on the US-led Israeli-Palestinian negotiating track which was resumed in Washington his week after a three-year stalemate and is due to continue within two weeks.
Israel has twice switched its orientation with regard to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in the past nine months. In November 2012, Israel accepted the diplomacy of Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, for the ceasefire which ended its Pillar of Defense operation against Hamas missiles.
In July 2013, since the coup which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, Israel is cooperating with the Egyptian military and its champion, Saudi Arabia.
This cooperation surfaced when Egyptian Apache gun ships appeared over Gaza skies following a secret Israeli deal with Cairo. What will happen when the Egyptian military goes forward with its plans for a major operation against Hamas – almost certainly in the teeth of opposition by the United States and Palestinian Authority with whom Israel launched peace talks this week?
Unknown assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at Sinai Sun hotel in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish in a midnight attack on Thursday, Ahram’s Arabic news website reported.
There were no casualties from the rocket which struck the rear entrance of the hotel. Eyewitnesses said the bomb left a huge hole in the building.
Ambulances rushed to the scene as thick smoke billowed out from the building, Ahram added.
Earlier in the day, a policeman was shot dead in a similar attack on the same hotel. Most of the hotel guests are said to be security personnel.
The lawless Sinai Peninsula, near Egypt’s borders with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, has been hit with almost daily attacks by hard-line Islamist militants since the army’s ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, on 3 July.
Muslim Brotherhood rejects offer of safe exit for Egypt protesters
Egypt’s interior ministry urges Morsi supporters to quit sit-ins
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi mourn during a funeral yesterday for two people killed in recent clashes at Rabaa Adawiya Square, where they are camping in Nasr city area, east of Cairo. Photograph: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
First published:Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 01:00
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood yesterday rejected an interior ministry proposal for a “safe exit” and “full protection” for supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi if they leave month-long sit-ins at Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City and Nahda Square in Giza.
The ministry urged Egyptians in the encampments to “let reason and the national interest prevail, and quickly leave”.
The Brotherhood and its allies responded by condemning the order to the security forces to end sit-ins and calling for peaceful “million man marches” today.
“Morsi loyalists will continue their sit-in, and no threats will frighten them,” stated Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref, adding, “The military coup is terrorism.”
At Rabaa al-Adawiya, protest leaders urged demonstrators to accept martyrdom if necessary. “Martyrs don’t die. Martyr’s go to paradise,” a speaker proclaimed.
The April 6th youth movement rejected the decision to end the sit-ins, arguing that “a security solution is a declaration of failure and disregard for blood”.
Addressing the Brotherhood, the movement said, “You have failed and you were going to throw the country into the abyss. Now you send your supporters into lost battles in order to achieve personal interests, regardless of the interests of the country. Stop shedding blood and leave.”
Pro-Morsi radical fundamentalist Gamaa al-Islamiya warned that the interim government’s plan to disband the sit-ins “will trigger chaos”. The group, notorious for the 1997 murders of 58 tourists at Luxor, said: “The attempt to impose the will of the bloody military coup on the people will trigger chaos, and the commander of the coup, the figurehead president and the interior minister will be responsible.”
The group called on “honourable” soldiers and police not to take part in clearing the encampments.
Amnesty International said the decision to end the protests is a recipe “for further bloodshed [given] the Egyptian security forces’ record of policing demonstrations with the routine use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force,” said Hassiba Haj Sahraoui, regional deputy director.
“The authorities as well as the security forces should start with an approach that avoids the use of force and is based on ‘methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation.”
At least 200 people have been killed since Mr Morsi was overthrown on July 3rd.
EU envoy Bernadino Leon held discussions with Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad during a tour of Rabaa al-Adawiya and met Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and members of the anti-Morsi Tamarod (Rebel) movement.
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle called on both sides to remain peaceful and agree to an inclusive solution.
“I am here to encourage all political forces to engage in dialogue,” he said.
However, Minister of Social Solidarity Ahmed El-Borai said the government is “examining the [Brotherhood’s] dossier” with a view to disbanding it. The movement, founded in 1919, was only legalised in March 2012.
After tracking rallies across Egypt in July, the Democracy Index said there had been “one of the biggest waves of demonstrations in Egyptian and international history”.
Investigation shows ties between Sinai extremists, foreign elements
A security source said that the interrogations of those arrested in Sinai in the last military campaign have proven that there are ties between the extremists in Sinai and foreign intelligence bodies.
The same source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the investigation carried out by the general and military intelligence bodies has shown that the extremists have ties to elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in Gaza.
Investigations are moving forward in order to provide a basis for arresting several of the leaders of these groups in Sinai, the source added.
The source also said that approximately half of the extremists in Sinai entered Egypt during the rule of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. He added that the places where they are hiding have been located and that several of these hideouts have been stormed by security, leading to the arrest of 38 extremists so far.
The source also denied claims that the intelligence bodies and the police have randomly arrested some members of Sinai tribes, and added that those arrested face charges of committing terrorist attacks against the police and the army.
The source also emphasized that the security forces are grateful for the help from Sinai residents in providing them with information, helping them tighten the noose on armed extremists.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
Thu, 01/08/2013 – 12:01