JAFFA, Israel – Hamas has opted for “confidence-building measures” in order to minimize Egypt’s mounting antagonism after Cairo accused the Islamic movement of responsibility for the assassination of Egyptian state prosecutor Hisham Barakat, Hamas sources in Gaza told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Hamas members in Gaza have started removing banners praising the Muslim Brotherhood – Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s sworn enemies – the sources said. The banners featured quotes from Hassan al-Bana, the founder of the Brotherhood, and pictures of its leaders and backers, like former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Qatari leader Hamad bin Jassem.
One banner, which featured the portraits of the three men alongside that of former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and the slogan “Jerusalem waits for the men,” was removed from a conspicuous spot in the center of Gaza City.
In what are seen as further attempts to appease Egypt, the sources said that Hamas police have launched a campaign against the Liwaa al-Tawhid Brigade, a jihadi organization that split from the more moderate Popular Resistance Movement and is allied with Salafists in Egypt opposed to Sisi’s regime.
Some of al-Tawhid’s leaders have been arrested and questioned by police about their funding. A Salafi source told Breitbart Jerusalem that Hamas confiscated the organization’s weapons, including long-range rockets.
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told Breitbart Jerusalem that he was unaware of any Islamic banners being removed and he denied that any crackdown on Salafists in Gaza was aimed at appeasing Egypt.
“If there are any arrests taking place, it’s not because of any orders coming from Egypt or any other place, but strictly out of concern for the security and safety of the Strip’s residents,” he said.
Hamas is the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in the late 1920s by an Egyptian teacher. Nonetheless, Hamas wants to maintain good relations with the current Egyptian regime, established in 2013 following the ouster of the democratically elected Islamist Morsi.