Egypt rebukes Hamas leader over deaths in Gaza border ‎riots

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh  Photo: AFP

Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Ismail Haniyeh is summoned urgently to Cairo by Egypt’s intelligence chief, told to halt riot campaign on Israel-Gaza border • Official: Haniyeh “told, in no uncertain terms, that the blood of the dead was on his hands” and “history won’t forgive Hamas.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was summoned urgently to Cairo Monday, where Egyptian officials severely admonished him over the terrorist group’s insistence on instigating violent demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Israel Hayom learned Tuesday.

In Monday’s riots, which Hamas orchestrated over the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, some 40,000 Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli security forces near the border fence. Fifty-eight people were killed and 2,700 people were wounded in the riots.

Israel has repeatedly warned Gazans against approaching the security fence, saying it will not tolerate attempts to breach the border.

A senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom that Haniyeh was summoned to Egyptian intelligence service headquarters early Monday afternoon, as the violence was escalating, where General Intelligence Service head Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel leveled scathing criticism at him over Hamas’ “riot policy.”

The official said Egyptian officials were stunned by the high number of casualties and angered by information provided by Israel that proved Hamas was paying civilians, including children, to place ‎themselves in harm’s way by approaching the fence ‎and clashing with IDF soldiers so as to allow Hamas ‎operatives to blend into the crowd and try to ‎carry out terrorist attacks.

Egyptian intelligence officers had also learned that the other terrorist groups in Gaza were also critical of Hamas’ provocations on the border, to the point of raising concerns that the enclave was on the brink of an internal confrontation that would plunge it into total chaos.

Reuters  Palestinian protesters near the Israel-Gaza border, Monday

“Ismail Haniyeh and two bodyguards arrived in Cairo by helicopter within an hour of being summoned. But anyone who says Egyptian intelligence was honoring him by sending a helicopter to get him is wrong – they were furious with him,” the senior official said.

“Kamel ‎then kept Haniyeh waiting outside his office. It was humiliating. When Haniyeh was finally called in, you could hear him [Kamel] yelling. Haniyeh didn’t dare answer back.

“Haniyeh was told, in no uncertain terms, that the blood of the dead was on his and [Hamas military leader Yahya] Sinwar’s hands. They even showed him images of Hamas operatives paying teenagers to go die near the fence.”

The official said that “Haniyeh was stunned” by the Egyptian rebuke. The official also said that Egyptian intelligence officers “made it clear to him [Haniyeh] that the Hamas leadership will be held responsible for any more deaths in border riots. They told him history won’t forgive the Hamas leadership for such senseless deaths.”

Haniyeh was also warned that if the group continues instigating border riots, Israel may restore its policy of targeted assassinations, and if that occurs, Egypt and other Arab nations trying to defuse the situation would suffice with declarative condemnations.

“Kamel demanded that Haniyeh order his people to cease the border riot campaign immediately. It was a very stern message,” the official said.

It is believed that this meeting was what prompted Hamas to pull back some of its operatives from the border on Monday night. As a result, the ‎Nakba Day demonstrations on the border on Tuesday, marking the “catastrophe” of ‎Palestinian ‎‎displacement during Israel’s 1948 War of ‎‎‎Independence, were far less violent than expected.

“Kamel’s decision to step in and defuse the situation in Gaza followed messages from both Hamas and Israel,” another senior Egyptian official said.

“Hamas had offered a hudna [temporary truce] but rejected any possibility of relinquishing its weapons, while Israel sent a stronger message, saying it will not allow Hamas to instigate violence and trigger an escalation that could destabilize the entire region, including Egypt.”



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