Palestinian media reports claim that Egyptian intelligence officers recently met with Hamas officials in an attempt to improve relations.
Egypt classifies Hamas’ military wing as a terrorist group and has accused it of supporting jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula in their campaign against Egyptian authorities. Sinai borders both the Gaza Strip and Israel and Egyptian authorities have recently destroyed more than two thousand smuggling tunnels underneath the Gaza border and hundreds of houses above them, which it says are used to provide Sinai terror groups with weapons and fighters.
However, according to Palestinian reports, Egyptian intelligence officials met with Hamas leaders based outside the Gaza Strip. Hamas asked that Egypt open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, which has remained almost entirely closed during 2015. Egypt is reported to have demanded unspecified “confidence-building measures.” According to Haaretz, the shift in Egyptian tone towards Hamas is part of a strategy supported by Saudi Arabia to move Hamas away from Iran’s regional axis.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Aswat Masriya news site reports that Egypt’s battle against Sinai jihadists continues and that forces yesterday killed five terrorists suspected of plotting an attack. Since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013, Islamist groups have targeted the regime of President al-Sisi, persistently attacking Egyptian military forces in the Sinai. In response, Egypt’s military has launched an ongoing offensive against the jihadists, who have also on occasion launched attacks at Israel including rocket fire and cross-border raids.
In another development, Haaretz reports that Turkey has told Hamas’ military wing based in the country, to reduce its terror activity aimed at Israel. Saleh Aduri was expelled from the West Bank five years ago but is thought to now direct Hamas’ West Bank operations from Turkey. Apparently, Turkish officials have told Aduri to curb his activities for fear that the United States will accuse Turkey of abetting and supporting terror.