An Egyptian official has denied a Jerusalem Post report that Hamas has established forward bases and rocket production facilities in the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to protect them from Israeli air strikes.

The Post revealed Sunday that Israel has called on Cairo to increase its efforts to restore order in Sinai and to prevent attacks, but the Egyptian military has held back from dismantling the Hamas infrastructure in the peninsula.

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"No one can ever bring in military tools or erect missile bases in Sinai. Egypt would not allow such a breach to its sovereignty," Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted an Egyptian official as saying in response to the Post report.

The official added that Sinai is completely under the control of the Egyptian authorities and that the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel remains in place.

He further supported his refutation of the existence of Hamas bases and weapons production facilities in Egypt by pointing to the presence of UN peacekeepers in northern Sinai who, he claimed, would be aware of such a development were it to occur.

More than a dozen Egyptian army battalions allowed into Sinai with Israel’s permission (required because of limits placed on Egyptian forces there under the peace treaty) are still operating there, although with limited success in stopping terrorist activity and arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.

Recent arms smuggled into Gaza have included advanced weaponry stolen from Libyan military storehouses such as Russian- made shoulder-to-air missiles.

Israel’s primary concern with Sinai is that it is being used by Palestinians to launch attacks into Israel while taking advantage of the open southern border.

The IDF has beefed up its forces along the border and recently established a new regional brigade that is responsible for defending Eilat and nearby areas.

On Thursday, the IDF bombed a car traveling in northern Gaza and killed a senior Aksa Martyrs Brigades operative who the army said was plotting an attack.

The terrorists were supposed to cross from Gaza into Sinai and then into Israel, similar to the attack that took place in August when eight Israelis were killed.

The bombing of the car is part of an IDF understanding that since it cannot operate in Egypt it needs to stop such attacks while they are still in the planning stages in the Gaza Strip.

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