Thursday, 23 September 2010

Egyptian authorities have detained a top Palestinian security chief

According to state-controlled media, the authorities detained a top Palestinian security chief in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as he flew in from Damascus, where Hamas has its base in exile. Al-Ahram reported that head of the Hamas-run General Security Service Mohammed Khamis Dababesh was “suspected of involvement in activities harmful to Egyptian state security, including an attempt to traffic a significant quantity of sophisticated telecommunications equipment.” He is also accused of being responsible in his capacity as security chief for the death in January of an Egyptian policeman during an exchange of fire at the Gaza border.

The news coincided with press reports that the head of intelligence in Egypt Omar Suleiman and the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had met in Saudi Arabia. The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat said the talks aimed to reconcile Palestinian differences. Suleiman has led Egyptian efforts to mediate between Fatah, which it supports, and Hamas which controls the Gaza strip. The meeting took place in Mecca, where the Egyptian briefed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on recent peace talks in Washington and Sharm el Sheikh.

The Foreign Ministry said Egypt would not allow convoys to cross into the Gaza strip through Egyptian territory. This directive was aimed partly at former British MP George Galloway, who has sent a convoy from Europe to try to break the blockade of Gaza. Egypt is caught between its desire not to help the Hamas government of Gaza, and not wishing to be seen to be lacking in humanitarian concern.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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