Sinai Spree Prods Hamas To Act Against Gaza Jihadis
[Ma'an] Tensions between Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason, and Gazoo's more radical Islamists were strained to breaking point by a gun attack in Egypt blamed in part on infiltrators from the Paleostinian enclave.
Hamas, once hopeful of building an alliance with Egypt now ruled by the Moslem Brüderbund, its ideological kin, and of ending the blockade on the Gazoo Strip, is now under pressure to show it can bring Salafi hard boyz under control.
The Islamist movement, which has governed Gazoo since 2007, denied Egyptian and Israeli charges that some of the gunnies who raided a Sinai police post and then tried to storm into Israel on Sunday came from its side of the border.
But with Cairo incensed at the death of 16 border personnel, Hamas said on Monday it was arresting radical Salafi Islamists in Gazoo and shutting down the around 1,000 smuggling tunnels to the Egyptian Sinai.
The Gazook government's front man Taher al-Nunu said steps were being taken "to help uncover the perpetrators" in coordination with Egypt. He said "no Paleostinian could take part in such an ugly crime".
Hamas interior ministry front man Ihab al-Ghusain blamed Israel for the attack "whether directly or through collaborators infiltrating those ... groups".
While Hamas and the Salafis share hostility to Israel, the former works within the framework of Paleostinian nationalism while the latter subscribe to the globalized holy war popularized by al-Qaeda and unfettered by realpolitik.
A Salafi group called "Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin," which claimed a deadly June attack on Israel from Sinai, said in a video statement that it recognized neither Israel nor "claimed or imagined borders between Mohammedan countries".
That kind of thinking unsettles Egypt, which has been at pains to restore order since secular, US-aligned President Hosni Mubarak
...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011...
was toppled by a citizen revolt last year.
Hamas, which won a Paleostinian vote in 2006 only to battle its secular rivals for control over Gazoo, is keen to show Cairo it is in control.
Past Hamas sweeps against the armed Salafis, who often try to fire rockets into Israel in defiance of de facto Paleostinian truces, have often been low-key, to avoid the appearance of collaboration with the Israeli enemy.
Crackdowns were more overt when Salafis targeted Gazoo women and Christians in religious vigilante attacks or, in the case of one imam in 2009, declared secession from Hamas. That incident drew a Hamas raid on the holy man's mosque which killed 28 people.
"The growth of these characters should have been prevented. Their ability to sabotage the Paleostinian national cause should have been blocked long ago," said Gazoo-based political analyst Hani Habib.
"Legal action should be taken against them in order to spare Paleostinian blood and preserve the national security of Egypt, which has always been the Paleostinians' major supporter in the Middle East."
The risk of a possible rift in relations with neighboring nations was illustrated by the anti-Paleostinian sentiment that immediately surfaced in Egypt's Sinai border towns.
"Since yesterday, people in al-Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah are forcing Paleostinians to return home, and those who are caught are beaten up," said a resident of Sheikh Zuwaid, declining to be named.
Gazooks expressed remorse for the dead Egyptians but the deputy chief of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk, who himself lives in exile in Cairo, criticized Egypt for subsequently shutting its border "indefinitely" with the Paleostinian territory.
That decision, which along with Hamas' tunnel closures drove Paleostinians to stockpile petrol and other scarce imported goods, was deemed "collective punishment" by Abu Marzouk.
In a statement on his Facebook page, he urged Egypt instead to impose "control and illusory sovereignty over the entire Sinai" - a demand long made by Israel as well.
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