Masked Hamas terrorists 311 (R).
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has refused several Egyptian
requests to hand over Palestinian terrorists alleged to have
participated in a recent attack on a police station in the Sinai city of
El-Arish, Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported on Monday.
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a "well-placed Egyptian source," the report said that Egyptian
authorities have provided evidence to Hamas implicating the men who
Egypt says escaped back into Gaza via tunnels.
With each request, Hamas officials gave different excuses for not handing over the wanted men, al-Masry al-Youm
quoted the sources as saying.
On Monday, Egypt presented another official request for Hamas to arrest the Palestinians. Of the 15 terrorists who attacked and attempted to take over the el-Arish police station, 10 were identified by Egyptian authorities as Palestinians, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram
This week Egypt launched a large military operation to rein in armed
Islamic elements operating in the Gaza Strip, including al-Qaida
affiliated terrorists. The operation required Israeli approval as the
1979 peace treaty between the two countries limits the number of troops
Egypt may move into the Sinai.
An Egyptian security official said that the operation is expected to
last a number of months, according to the report, and that it would
eventually proceed to Rafah, home of the sole border crossing between
Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
The official added that as the widespread crackdown began, Palestinians
were observed making their way back into Gaza via tunnels in the Rafah
On Sunday, the Egyptian military deployed 1,000 soldiers and hundreds of
armored personnel carriers in the Sinai with the aim of uprooting
terrorist infrastructure and restoring order to the peninsula which was
lost following the revolution in Egypt in February.
One person was killed, and 16 others were arrested in Sinai on Monday as
part of the raid launched by Egyptian troops and policemen, state
television said, according to the French news agency AFP.
The Egyptian troops exchanged fire with the al-Qaida suspects wanted by authorities, an official said.
According to the al-Masry al-Youm
report, during a meeting between Hamas officials and Egyptian security
authorities to discuss Palestinian reconciliation earlier this year, the
Egyptians brought up the issue of dealing with criminals and
infiltrators from Gaza making their way into the Sinai.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report