Gaza, 9 Dhulqa’dah 1436/24 August 2015 (MINA) – Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas holds the Egyptian security apparatus responsible for last week’s abduction of four Palestinians by unknown assailants in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
“Egypt bears direct responsibility for the safety and security of the four abductees,” leading Hamas member Moussa Abu Marzouk said in a Saturday interview with the Al Jazeera Mubasher news channel, Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic news Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Hamas, he added, considered the abductions “a serious matter that contravenes all diplomatic and security norms of the Egyptian state”.
Abu Marzouk went on to urge the Egyptian authorities to determine the fate of the abductees and secure their release.
Last Wednesday night, a bus carrying some 50 Palestinian passengers – en route to Cairo’s international airport – left the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing, which links the Hamas-run strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Shortly after leaving Rafah, however, as the bus entered Egypt’s volatile North Sinai region, it was ambushed by unidentified gunmen, who reportedly shot at the vehicle before boarding it.
The gunmen searched all the passengers on board, seizing four of them before allowing the bus to continue. The entire episode is said to have taken only five minutes.
Authorities in Gaza have raised questions about the incident, especially given that the bus was reportedly escorted by an Egyptian security detail.
“There are suspicions, question marks – and several theories – regarding the circumstances of the abductions,” said Abu Marzouk.
“There are those who say the Egyptian security apparatus was behind the incident; others say it was the Daesh [militant group],” he asserted. “While others believe the Israeli enemy masterminded the entire episode.”
Abu Marzouk added: “Regardless of these different theories, however, what matters to us most is the safety of those who were abducted.”
He went on to voice hope that the Egyptian authorities would soon establish the exact circumstances of the incident and secure the abductees’ release.
Although militant groups are known to be active in Sinai, which shares borders with both Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip, no group has yet claimed responsibility for last week’s abductions.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Ezzadine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, declared that the abductions “will not stand”.
“We will keep our silence on the matter for now, but the world is aware that al-Qassam follows through its words with actions,” he said without elaborating.
The four abductees’ identities have been reported as Yasser Zannoun, 28; Hussein al-Zubdah, 28; Abdullah Abu al-Jabeen, 22; and Abdel Dayem Abu Libdeh, 24.
In a joint statement issued Sunday evening, the families of the four young men said they had asked Egypt’s Foreign Ministry to quickly clarify their sons’ fate. (T/P010/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)