The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas each blamed Israel Monday for orchestrating a terrorist attack in Egypt\’s Sinai Peninsula which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and wounded seven a day earlier. The accusations prompted a swift dismissal from Israel, which was also targeted in the attack.
Egypt\’s Muslim Brotherhood said on its website that the attack "can be attributed to Mossad" and was an attempt to thwart Islamist President Mohamed Morsy.
"Even the person who says this when he looks at himself in the mirror does not believe the nonsense he is uttering," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
According to the Brotherhood statement, the Mossad "has been seeking to abort the revolution since its inception and the proof of this is that it gave instructions to its Zionist citizens in Sinai to depart immediately a few days ago." The group added: "(It) also draws our attention to the fact that our forces in Sinai are not enough to protect it and our borders, which makes it imperative to review clauses in the signed agreement between us and the Zionist entity.".
Egypt branded the Islamist gunmen behind the attack as "infidels" and promised on Monday to launch a crackdown following the massacre that has strained Cairo\’s ties with both Israel and Palestinians.
The bloodshed represented an early diplomatic test for Morsy, who took office at the end of June after staunch US ally Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year in a popular uprising.
Mubarak had cooperated closely with Israel on security and suppressed Islamist movements such as Morsy\’s Muslim Brotherhood which rejects violence to achieve its goals but whose leaders often voiced hostility towards the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, the Hamas government and some Palestinian groups also hinted at Israeli involvement in the attack with the aim of driving a wedge between the Palestinians and Egypt.
Hamas security officials insisted that none of the terrorists who carried out the Sinai attack had come from the Gaza Strip. However, the officials did not say who they believed was behind the terror assault.
A spokesman for the Hamas government claimed the attack was an Israeli "attempt to tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge between the Egyptians and the residents of the Gaza Strip."
The spokesman said that allegations about the involvement of Palestinians in the terror attack were mainly aimed at inciting the Egyptian people against the residents of the Gaza Strip and the Hamas government.
"This is a despicable crime that only serves the interests of the Zionist enemy," the Hamas spokesman said. "We believe that Israeli agents were behind the attack."
The Islamic Jihad organization in the Gaza Strip also denied involvement, saying that attack serves only "Israeli occupation." Another group, Al-Jama\’ah Al-Islamiya [The Palestinian Group], claimed that Israeli "intelligence forces" were behind the attack.
Egypt\’s decision to shut the Rafah border crossing in the aftermath of Sunday\’s attack drew sharp criticism from Palestinians.