Egypt's Brotherhood: Israel hitting Gaza as political ploy

Palestinian women mourn the death of Hamas militant Mohammed al-Qanoah. He died of wounds from an air strike.
Palestinian women mourn the death of Hamas militant Mohammed al-Qanoah. He died of wounds from an air strike. (HATEM MOUSSA / AP)
Posted: November 14, 2012

CAIRO - Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood sharply criticized Israeli leaders on Tuesday over air strikes in the Gaza Strip, accusing them of heating up the conflict to score political points ahead of elections.

The latest round of violence began Saturday, with rocket attacks from Gaza militants and Israeli air strikes that killed seven Palestinians. More than 100 rockets have exploded in Israel since the weekend. The exchanges appeared to die down on Tuesday.

Also, Israeli tanks struck a Syrian artillery launcher Monday after a mortar shell flew into Israel-held territory, fueling concerns that Israel could be dragged into the Syrian civil war.

In its statement, the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party referred to Israel as a "Zionist occupier" and a "racist state," placing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the "fringes" of the "far right."

"In the framework of elections that Israel is witnessing is a recent military escalation against occupied Gaza and the occupied Golan Heights," the statement said. Israel has set parliamentary elections for Jan. 22.

The Brotherhood's party called on Arab and Muslim governments "to stop the Zionist war that is operating under electoral calculations for personal gain far from humanitarian calculations for peace, security and stability."

The Muslim Brotherhood itself released a separate statement shortly after its party's, saying: "The killing of tens of our innocent Palestinian brothers is part of a link in a chain of oppression and Judaization that seeks to impose itself on the ground, and that will never materialize with God's will."

The harsh pronouncements followed a small demonstration in Cairo on Monday and an open letter signed by several liberal parties and revolutionary groups denouncing the Israeli strikes on Gaza.

The statements by both the Brotherhood and its political party highlight decades of tensions between neighbors Israel and Egypt, despite a 1979 peace treaty. The Islamists, repressed in Egypt under the regime that was ousted last year, have emerged as the most powerful group since last year's popular uprising. They won parliamentary elections and the presidency.

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