Hamas has removed all traces of Muslim Brotherhood signage and banners from the streets of Gaza in an attempt to repair relations between the terror group and one-time supporter Egypt, according to Saudi media sources.
It is believed that removing all Muslim Brotherhood slogans and visible propaganda, including pictures of the terror group’s founder Hassan Al-Banna and former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, indicate a further distancing of Hamas from the core of the Sunni Islamist movement and are connected to an agreement made last week between the group and Egyptian leaders.
Logos and images, some that had been there for years, such as a large image of the present and former emirs of Qatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Al Saraya region of central Gaza, have now been removed, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, a U.K.- based Saudi daily.
Beneath the image was written, “Jerusalem is waiting for the men.” It has since been replaced with “Hamas does not fight outside of Palestine … our aim is to liberate it,” referring to withdrawing its influence from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
With the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, and imprisonment of hundreds of the Brotherhood’s members, Hamas met with Egyptian intelligence leaders to discuss their withdrawal from the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamic organization founded in 1928.
Last week, a Hamas delegation visited Egypt in an effort aimed at easing tensions between the two sides. The visit came one week after Egypt accused Hamas of involvement in the 2015 assassination of Egypt’s former Attorney General Hisham Barakat.
Following the deposing of Morsi only one year after Egypt’s so-called ‘Arab Spring’ toppled the more than three-decade leader Hosni Mubarak, Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and designated them a terrorist group.
In the past, Egypt has provided Hamas with political support, often mediating between the group and Israel. But in recent months, and with Hamas reportedly collaborating with Salafi groups in the Sinai Peninsula to boost its smuggling trade, Egypt has redoubled its efforts to destroy Hamas’ smuggling tunnels and to secure its borders.
While Hamas is meeting with Egyptian leaders in an effort to strengthen relations, Hamas militants continue to destabilize efforts at peace through continuing to dig tunnels into Israel to smuggle weapons and ongoing rocket attacks.
In speeches to The World Economic Forum in Switzerland and Islamic clerics at Cairo’s famed Al Azhar University, current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has sought to realign Egypt with global anti-terror interests, called upon Muslims to combat extremist ideology.
He told delegates in Davos, “We are in need of a religious revolution,” and that “the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost … by our own hands.”
Hamas is hoping its withdrawal from the Muslim Brotherhood will create a more conducive political environment with Egypt, and likewise, President el-Sisi hopes to strengthen his relationship with the United States and Israel.