Egypt seizes Grad warheads likely en route to Gaza

According to Egyptian daily 'Al-Masry al-Youm', Egypt security sources said gang smuggled consignment into seaport.

November 22, 2012 04:39
2 minute read.
Libyan Grad rocket (illustrative)

Libyan Grad rocket 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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The Egyptian security services have seized a weapons consignment including Grad rockets, the Egyptian press reported on Wednesday.

Security sources said a gang had smuggled the consignment – consisting of 108 Grad rocket warheads and 19,646 rounds of ammunition – into the seaport of Marsa Matruh, according to Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm.

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The consignment was most likely destined for Gaza but could also have been en route to buyers in Egypt’s increasingly lawless Sinai.

Al-Masry al-Youm cited unnamed security sources as saying a gang of three Egyptian suspects fled into the desert around Marsa Matruh, leaving behind the weapons consignment after security services ambushed them.

The security services suspect the gang specializes in smuggling narcotics, light and heavy weaponry and ammunition from outside of Egypt and selling them to “clients” inside the country, according to the report.

It did not speculate as to the source of the weapons. However, Marsa Matruh is on the main highway from the Nile Delta to Libya, a country Egyptian security officials have named as the source of many of the weapons being sold on Egypt’s black market and smuggled into Gaza.

Over the past year, Egypt has seized several weapons consignments that originated in Libya, including in Marsa Matruh.

According to a report in The Washington Post last year, large caches of weapons have flooded into Egypt from Libya, including surface-to-air missiles, rockets and anti-aircraft guns. The missiles are smuggled into Sinai and then into Gaza via networks of tunnels.

In addition to Libya, weapons are also being smuggled into Gaza and Sinai from Sudan and from Lebanon, via Iranian proxy Hezbollah.

A report in the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar newspaper on Monday noted that Israel has not managed to completely disable weapons supply lines into Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Hamas has even received shipments of long-range weapons from Hezbollah over the past several days, according to Al-Akhbar.

The report said most of the weapons originate in Iranian and Syrian ports, and are transported to Sinai via Sudan. The arms shipments are coordinated by a communications network that connects Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Syrian army, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Al-Akhbar quoted anonymous sources familiar with Palestinian “resistance groups” as saying that Iran and Hezbollah have succeeded in keeping open their weapons supply lines and are focusing now on transporting long-range missiles to Gaza.

Hamas has fired 122mm. Grad rockets – also known as Katyushas – and Grad-style copies at Israel since 2006, using portable single-tube launchers. The rockets have a range of around 40 kilometers.

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