World Bulletin / News Desk
Gaza's Hamas-led government on Thursday denied recent accusations that Mahmoud Ezzat, acting leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, was hiding in the Gaza Strip.
"We categorically deny these claims about the presence of Brotherhood leaders in the Gaza Strip," Youssef Zarqa, political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told Anadolu Agency.
He described the allegations as "fabrications" by the Egyptian media.
On Wednesday, Egypt's interior minister claimed that Ezzat was hiding out in the coastal enclave, which is governed by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
Relations between Egypt and Hamas have deteriorated since the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by Egypt's military establishment.
The Egyptian media accuses Hamas of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs and providing support to the Muslim Brotherhood – claims dismissed by Hamas.
Egypt's Interior Minister has previously accused Hamas – along with the latter's military wing, the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades – of being behind attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, a claim strenuously denied by Hamas.
Zarqa described the interior minister's statements as an attempted "justification" for tightening a seven-year siege on the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian military has launched a wide-ranging campaign aimed at destroying the network of underground tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, which in recent years have been used to smuggle badly-needed commodities into the beleaguered Palestinian territory.