Hamas holds Egypt responsible for kidnapped members

Published August 24th, 2015 - 12:23 GMT

Hamas said Monday that it holds Egypt "responsible" for the lives of four of its members who were kidnapped last week by the Sinai Province militant group in the northern Sinai.

In a statement, the movement urged the Egyptian authorities to do more to secure their release, and called on human rights and political organizations to play a bigger role condemning the "savage" kidnapping.

Hamas also warned the IS-affiliated militants against harming the kidnapped members.

"The criminals who dare to take action against out people falsely think that the Palestinian people might forget or ignore this case," the statement added.

The four Palestinians -- identified as Abd al-Basit Abd al-Dayim, Abdullah Said Abdullah Abu Jibbeen, Yasir Fathi Misbah Zanoun and Hussein Khamis al-Thabda -- were kidnapped at gunpoint on Wednesday after they crossed through the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.

Egyptian officials told Ma'an that they were taken hostage by the Sinai Province militant group as a bargaining chip to force Hamas to release some 50 Salafists currently imprisoned in Gaza.

Negotiations have reportedly begun between Hamas and the militant group, with the involvement of both Palestinian and Egyptian mediators.

However, sources close to the Sinai Province group -- which pledged allegiance to IS in November -- have said the four Hamas members would be killed if Hamas did not comply with the group's demands.

Initial investigations suggest the Hamas members were taken to the al-Tuma village south of the city of Sheikh Zuweid.

The Sinai Province militant group has claimed responsibility for attacks on Egypt's army which have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since 2013.

The attacks followed the bloody repression against political opponents launched by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime, which have seen at least 1,400 killed and thousands more jailed.

In Gaza, the last year has seen growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups, with a string of small-scale explosions.

Many of the more recent attacks are believed to be the work of fringe Salafist groups that have made a name for themselves as unafraid to challenge Hamas, seeking to outbid them in the fight against Israel and the defense of Islam.

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