Hamas says claim it supported Sinai attacks 'propaganda'

A picture taken from the Rafah border of the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt shows smoke billowing in Egypt's North Sinai on July 2, 2015 (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Friday dismissed as "propaganda" an Israeli claim that it provided support for this week's jihadist attacks against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.

"The occupation's (Israel's) statements about Hamas helping IS are stupid accusations... and propaganda that aims to incite against Hamas," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP, referring to the Islamic State group, whose fighters carried out the attacks.

"Hamas has made efforts and taken stated measures to secure the border" between the Gaza Strip, which it controls, and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, he said.

"We are intent on (preserving) Egypt's security."

Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai said in an interview in Arabic with Al-Jazeera television Thursday that Hamas had provided help to "groups supporting IS" for the attacks, claiming also that wounded jihadists had been smuggled into Gaza.

The Cairo-based Hamas number two Mussa Abu Marzuk on Friday told Al-Quds TV, which is close to Hamas, that "the current escalation serves neither the Palestinian nor the Egyptian people".

"What is happening in the Sinai is not good for Gaza since the Sinai is its only outlet to the outside world.

"We want to maintain relations with the Egyptian leadership whoever they may be, because this is the future of the Palestinian people," he added.

Medical and security officials said at least 70 people, mostly soldiers, were killed in Wednesday's attacks and hours of clashes, along with dozens of jihadists.

There have been growing tensions between Hamas and extremist splinter groups in Gaza, including those claiming links to IS.

Such tensions have deepened since last summer, when Israel and Hamas fought a deadly 50-day war in and around Gaza.

The extremists have made no secret of their disdain for Hamas over its observance of a tacit ceasefire with Israel and its failure to fully implement Islamic law.

Gaza militants who said they supported IS claimed responsibility for three separate attacks in May, including a rocket attack on a base of Hamas's armed wing.

They also have claimed responsibility for rockets fired at southern Israel in defiance of the truce, prompting Israel to retaliate with air strikes.