US Congressman blames Egypt for enabling Hamas to tighten Gaza stronghold
|Wednesday, November 7,2007 06:03|
Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman on Monday stated that the Hamas movement had managed to smuggle between 12 and 20 million US dollars per month through the Gaza-Egypt border, arguing that Egypt was directly responsible for allowing such activity to take place.
In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Ackerman, who is Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, blamed Egypt for smuggling, arguing that Cairo"s failure to control the Sinai border with the Gaza Strip had helped ease smuggling into the coastal region.
"The smuggling provides somewhere between 12 million and 20 million dollars to the economy of a rogue government that staged a coup against the wishes of the Palestinian people," Ackerman stated.
Ackerman also accused Egyptian border officials of accepting financial bribes in return for turning a blind eye to smuggling.
The US congressman has a long history of criticizing Egypt for such activity, and spearheaded a campaign several months ago to punish the country for such alleged activity, the result being a cut in aid of 200 million US dollars.
Since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006, elections that the Quartet group admitted were fair and democratic, the coastal region has been placed under a crippling economic embargo in the hope that such a move would force the Hamas movement to renounce armed struggle against Israeli, and accept all previously-signed agreements.