Egypt seeks to ‘break the ice’ with Hamas

A delegation from Hamas began an official visit to Cairo on Saturday, meeting with Egyptian Intelligence Service officials upon arrival at a hotel in the capital, the website of the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Aِِccording sources who spoke to the newspaper, the General Intelligence Service, which manages the Palestinian-Israel conflict file, is seeking to break the ice with Hamas amid tensions between the Islamist group and Egypt.

Last week, Egypt accused Hamas of involvement, along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in last year's killing of the country's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Barakat was killed in June of 2015 when his car was targeted by a bomb in the capital Cairo.

Egyptian Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghafar claimed that Turkish-based leaders of the Brotherhood masterminded the assassination, while Hamas "provided training for militants to execute it and also took part in planning it."

Hamas denied the accusations, with spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri describing them as "untrue," saying the accusations are not in line with "efforts exerted to develop relations between Hamas and Cairo."

The accusations are not the first time that Egypt has accused Hamas of orchestrating terrorist attacks in the country.

Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian Arabs to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula.

The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, the Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province.

Egyptian sources revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels. Hamas denied the charge.

Hamas's international relations official, Osama Hamdan, said in a statement on Sunday in parallel with the visit to Cairo that the meetings would discuss bilateral relations between the two sides, "especially as the visit takes place in conditions that Hamas didn't want to exist."

The Hamas delegation is headed by Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas politburo, according to Al-Ahram.

Al-Zahar denied in earlier remarks all accusations against the movement of involvement in the assassination of Barakat, saying the accusations are not "the opinion of all security services in Egypt," but are "limited to the interior ministry," referring to good ties with the Egyptian General Intelligence Service since the days of late intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/209345

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