Israel praises Egypt for counter-terror ops

Security forces in Sinai reportedly seize weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, 'destined for Gaza'.

smuggling tunnel 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
smuggling tunnel 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Egyptian security forces seized 266 rockets and three anti-aircraft missiles hidden in a weapons cache on the Egyptian border with Israel, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi Arabic daily reported on Friday. The Egyptian raid also uncovered 43 anti-personnel mines, 51 shells, 21 grenades and 178 rounds of ammunition. The weapons were destined for Gaza, according to the report. No suspects were taken into custody. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening, an Israeli security source described Egypt's anti-terror operations as "important and positive." "All action against the threat of terrorism on our border is positive and important," the source said. "This action also benefits Egypt, which has been the target of Iranian and Hizbullah attempts at destabilization." Giora Eiland, a former head of the National Security Council, told the Post he believed that only a "totally sterile" security zone extending three kilometers into the Sinai from Gaza could completely end weapons smuggling to Hamas. "Everything heading to Gaza should pass through the zone, which would have two fences sealing it off, and one road. All traffic travelling on the road needs to be monitored. Until this happens, efforts to halt arms smuggling from Sinai will not be systematic," Eiland said. Last Monday, Egypt uncovered an additional weapons cache in Sinai, in which 50 grenades, 80 shells, 20 rockets and 500 rounds of ammunition were found. Also last week, the Lebanese al-Mustaqabal newspaper reported that Egyptian authorities had arrested four Iranian Revolutionary Guard members who had established an intelligence network in Egypt five months ago. According to the report, the intelligence ring was led by an Iranian officer named Muhammad Alam al-Din, who entered Egypt in 2006 with a forged Iraqi passport. He purchased an apartment in Cairo and attempted to blend in among Iraqi refugees in the Egyptian capital, the newspaper said. Al-Din went on to handle three additional members of the ring, according to the report. Egyptian security forces began paying attention to al-Din after he made frequent visits to Sinai and established ties with smugglers. Following the arrest of the four Iranians, the suspects confessed to being sent by Teheran to set up an intelligence network, improve Iran's image among Egyptians and Iraqi refugees there, and build contacts with Beduin tribes in the Sinai.