MidEast

Egyptian Army Escalates Media War Against Hamas

A series of anti-Hamas leaks from Egyptian security forces — in which the Iran-backed terror group is blamed for fomenting violence inside Egypt — may be gaining traction in the Egyptian public sphere. The charges are part of a media war between Hamas and the Egyptian army. The army blames Hamas for a string of terror attacks in the country’s Sinai Peninsula and beyond.

The latest accusations link Hamas to violence conducted on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an off-shoot, during Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution. The charge had been made weeks ago by former interior minister Mansour al-Essawy, but was broadly dismissed because al-Essawy had a motive to link the increasingly unpopular Palestinian terror group to the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak administration in which he had then been serving.

Days later, however, Egyptian outlets began publishing details of leaked phone transcripts that appear to conclusively show deep coordination between Hamas and the Egyptian Brotherhood over a series of riots and prison breaks. Now English-language Egyptian outlets are reporting on growing belief in those theories. Hamas’s eroding popularity inside Egypt — which is both driven and enabled by the media war — carries significant risks for the group.

The army has undertaken a series of steps, including restrictions on the movement of Hamas figures and the destruction of Hamas smuggling tunnels, that have the potential to damage the Palestinian organization.