Rafah border guards allegedly kill young Palestinian
Rafah border crossing

The Egyptian border guard allegedly killed a 17-year-old Palestinian on Friday night, as he attempted to enter Egypt through the closed Rafah border crossing. 

According to a report from Reuters Arabic, Egyptian and Palestinian sources informed the news agency that the border guards shot the Palestinian with live bullets as he tried to cross over with three other young men.

Gaza Emergency Services Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra reported to the AFP news agency that the young man was “shot in the back and the bullet settled in the heart. He died on the spot.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health Spokesperson Iyad al-Bazm stated on his Facebook page that “a Palestinian citizen, aged 23, was killed by Egyptian army fire on the Egyptian-Palestinian border and the security agencies are investigating the incident to find out the motives.”

However, Qudra stated that Hopi was 17-years-old and not 23 as previously reported. 

Hamas released a statement today condemning the death of the youth, who they identified as Zaki Hopi, as reported the Times of Israel.

“We condemn the killing of the child Zaki Hopi by Egyptian army gunfire on the borders. We consider what happened a dangerous development and excessive use of force,” said the statement.

“What happened is not appropriate to neighborly relations between brothers,” the statement added.

Egyptian-Hamas relations have been cool since the 2013 ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi has been accused of spying for Hamas, and coordinating with foreign organizations to smuggle agents into the country after the June 30 protests, in order to bring about chaos and instability.

In March, the Court of Urgent Matters ruled a freeze on Hamas activities in Egypt and the seizure of its office in Cairo. The lawsuit against Hamas also included accusations of illegally entering Egypt, helping to plot the release of imprisoned members of group during the January 25 revolution and conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize the country.

Since 2013, the border crossing at Rafah has only been sporadically opened due to security concerns.

The October 24 militant attack in North Sinai, which claimed the lives of at least 33 soldiers, caused Egypt to shut the down the border crossing at Rafah for long periods of time and to begin constructing a buffer zone between Gaza and North Sinai.

Although Hamas condemned the attacks on Egyptian troops and denied any involvement, senior Egyptian officials have insinuated that the group helped to smuggle Palestinian militants to Egypt through the tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza.

Major General Samih Beshadi, who was formerly in control of security in Northern Sinai, stated in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat in October that, “there is no doubt that Palestinian elements were involved in the attack.”

Following the October 24 militant attack, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stated in a television statement that “foreign elements” were involved in the North Sinai attacks.

In November, the government announced it would be expanding the buffer zone between North Sinai and Gaza strip to 1 km in width due to the discovery that the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt were longer than they expected.

To create the buffer zone, the military forcibly evacuated Rafah residents and demolished around 800 residencies, displacing 1,156 families.