Egypt security officers said they intercepted surface-to-air missiles smuggled from Libya through the Sinai peninsula, the Washington Post reported, a day after Egypt reportedly flew fighter jets over certain areas of Sinai without requisite permission from Israel.
According to the Washington Post report, an Egyptian source said that Palestinians in Gaza had likely struck a deal over the weapons with contacts in Libya.
'Egypt seizes Gaza-bound anti-aircraft missiles in Sinai'
Vice PM: Libya is new source for smuggled arms to Gaza
Such weapons pose a serious threat to Israel, which regularly patrols the strip with "helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft," the Washington Post reported. It is the second time in a month that Egyptian security forces announced they had intercepted smuggled weapons in Sinai.
Egyptian security sources said that weapons smuggling through Sinai has boosted the black market there.
Weapons smuggling from Libya has increased since the fall of former Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi, who held weapons caches throughout the country.
Smugglers have taken advantage of the situation to increase their business, running weapons from Libya through Egypt and into Sinai, destined for the smuggling tunnels between the peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
"Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon told foreign journalists in July during a briefing, without elaborating on the kind of munitions involved.
According to The Media Line, no one knows exactly what weapons remain in Libya, or where they are stored though Russia reportedly sold Gaddafi an unknown number of its Igla-S, a man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile popular with militant groups.
Egypt raised eyebrows on Thursday as reports circulated that the
Egyptian Air Force was flying fighter jets over areas of Sinai
designated by the peace accords with Israel to require permission from
"Half of the Sinai Peninsula is our territory, and we do not need
authorization to increase our power in the region," an Egyptian air
force officer told MENA, stressing that the overflights were a response
to increased terror activity in Sinai since the fall of the Mubarak
Israel agreed to allow Egypt to increase the number of troops it deploys
in Sinai after a terror attack was carried out from Egyptian territory.
The US has also put pressure on Egypt to beef up security in what has
become regarded as a somewhat lawless territory, where terrorists have
also blown up the natural gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel and
Jordan six times just since the ousting of former Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak. Reuters and the Media Line contributed to this report.