Mon, Nov 15, 2010 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Egyptian Media Criticizes Hamas for Inviting Ahmadinejad To Gaza Strip
Hamas’ invitation of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to the Gaza Strip provoked strong criticism from the Egyptian media. The media attacks, especially in the Egyptian establishment press, reflect Egypt’s fear of the Gaza Strip’s turning into an extremist Islamic entity under Iranian influence and a danger to Egypt’s national security.
1. Ahmed Yussuf, deputy foreign minister in the de facto Hamas administration, recently called on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip. He said that such a visit would be “of the highest importance” (Fars News Agency, Iran, November 8, 2010). The invitation was made after Ahmadinejad had already visited Lebanon (including south Lebanon) and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s had visited the Gaza Strip.
2. In response to the invitation, in its November 10 edition the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram strongly attacked both Hamas and Iran. It printed an article by Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafaa called “Basic Truth,” which expressed doubt as to the possibility of Ahmadinejad’s arriving by sea, and called the invitation “media noise.” The article accused Hamas of playing a “challenge game” of the sort played by Hezbollah, whose intention was to embarrass the Egyptian government. It was all being done, according to the article, at the expense of the Palestinian people and Palestinian national reconciliation (See the Appendix for a translation of the article.).
3. The article is another of the strong Egyptian media attacks which appear from time to time, especially in the establishment media, against Hamas and Iran. One such example was the attack carried out in the middle of August 2010 when the Egyptian media (and several senior Egyptian figures) strongly criticized Hamas, calling it an “Iranian agent,” and accusing it of taking orders from Iran. The criticism came after 122mm rockets were twice fired at the southern Israeli city of Eilat and the southern Jordanian city of Aqaba, originating with Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives in the Gaza Strip, although Hamas did not admit responsibility for the attacks.
4. Behind the article were the Egyptian fears of the Gaza Strip’s becoming an extremist Islamic entity influenced by Iran and a threat to Egyptian national security. For Egypt, the process is manifested by the Iranian-supported military buildup carried out by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip; the Iranian-supported “industry” of smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip through the Sinai Peninsula; the attempts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel (and Jordan) from the Sinai Peninsula, which bear Hamas operatives’ fingerprints; the close relations between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, its parent movement and determined opposition of the Egyptian regime; and the Islamization of the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, which is turning the Strip into a focal point for radical Islam which in turn radiates to Egypt.
(Al-Ahram, November 10, 2010)
The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Yussuf, advisor to the dismissed prime minister [i.e. Ismail Haniya] of the government in the Gaza Strip, said that the Hamas movement had decided to invite the Iranian president to visit the Gaza Strip, inspired by his visit to south Lebanon. The invitation to visit Gaza was extended by Hamas to the Iranian president at a time when the reconciliation meetings [of the Palestinian factions] were being renewed in Damascus, the Syrian capital.
The question is the following: Why did Hamas extend an invitation to the Iranian president? And why this special timing? And how will the Iranian president enter the Gaza Strip? Will he challenge the Israeli blockade and come by ship? Or will we see him going through the Rafah crossing with a convoy which entered Egyptian territory at Nuweiba [a port city on the eastern Sinai coast] and traveled north to the Rafah crossing?
In my assessment, the Hamas movement continues playing a Hezbollah-style game of challenges. The movement is entirely aware that inviting the Iranian president is nothing more than media noise and it knows [full well] that the Iranian president cannot conduct such an experiment. His country filled the world with its [media] noise when it said it would send ships to break the siege of Gaza, but when Israel answered it would not allow the ships to pass and would tow them to the Israeli port of Ashdod, Iran backed down. The same for Hezbollah, which claimed it would prepare a number of ships to break the siege of the Strip, but [in reality] the ships did not sail when Israel threatened to take control of them.
In my assessment, Hamas will continue to play the [challenge] game which Iran’s allies are so good at [i.e., Syria and Hezbollah]. It is a media game whose objective is to tickle the sentiments of the simple masses and to embarrass various governments, especially the Egyptian government. It is a game being played with the cards face up on the table. If Hamas is serious about inviting Ahmadinejad, and if he is serious about breaking the siege, then let him get his ships ready and send them to the Gaza Strip. Or let them [Ahmadinejad and Hamas] stop the media game, which has become public and is being played at the expense of Palestinian national reconciliation and of the rights of the Palestinian people.
 For further information see the August 15, 2010 bulletin, Hamas operatives were responsible for the two rocket attacks on Eilat and Aqaba.