Hamas denies Israeli claim Gaza treated ISIS wounded

2016-02-08 21:13
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Jerusalem - Hamas on Monday denied Israeli accusations that wounded Islamic State group fighters from Egypt had been smuggled through tunnels to receive medical care in the Islamist-run Gaza Strip.

Israeli General Yoav Mordechai had accused the jihadist group of smuggling wounded fighters from Sinai Province - the ISIS affiliate in northern Egypt - through tunnels into the Palestinian enclave for treatment.

"We have reliable information that the members of ISIS in the Sinai entered the Gaza Strip via tunnels to be treated in Hamas hospitals," Mordechai said in an interview with the Arabic-language website Elaph.

Mordechai heads the defence ministry body responsible for co-ordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories (COGAT).

He alleged that wounded militants were taken to hospital in Khan Yunis, according to a transcript of parts of the interview provided to AFP by COGAT, but provided no firm evidence for the claim.

The Hamas interior ministry immediately dismissed the allegations as "false".

Spokesperson Iyad al-Bozom said the allegations were "aimed at inciting against the Gaza Strip and causing tension in the relationship between the Strip and the Arab Republic of Egypt [while] working to tighten the siege".

Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said hospitals in the enclave treat only local residents.

An Israeli blockade severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the territory, and Egypt's sole border with Gaza has also remained largely closed since 2013.

Egypt has been accused of destroying tunnels that Gazans used to smuggle goods and food in, but which were also allegedly used for moving weapons.

In late 2014, as part of an attempt to restore peace in its restive northern Sinai region, Egypt began setting up a buffer zone on its border with Gaza and destroyed hundreds of tunnels.

Last September, Egyptian forces carried out digging work that Palestinians say flooded the last remaining tunnels there.

Read more on:    gaza strip  |  egypt

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