Egypt arrests two Gazans with bomb

Palestinian suspects caught with explosives, were allegedly planning suicide attacks in Sinai.

breaking Rafah 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
breaking Rafah 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Egyptian security forces arrested two Palestinians carrying a bomb Saturday who managed to slip through the border with the Gaza Strip and were trying to sneak further into the Sinai Peninsula, security and policy officials said. Authorities arrested Hani Hamdan, 26, and his younger brother Rami, 21, in el-Massoura village, some four kilometers west of Egypt's border with Gaza, said a Sinai security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. A police official in Cairo confirmed the arrests, adding that the two were trying to reach the town of el-Arish, some 35 kilometers from the border, and move from there into southern Sinai where several beach resorts are located. The search follows the detention, over the past few days, of 15 Palestinians who were also caught carrying weapons and explosives in the town of el-Arish, located some 35 kilometers from the border, and other remote parts of the Sinai desert. Twelve of those arrested were members of Hamas, said a senior intelligence officer in northern Sinai, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. The group consisted of two cells arrested separately as they attempted to sneak out of el-Arish carrying explosives, electric circuits, machine guns and ammunition, the official added. Thousands of Palestinians continued to pour through the breached Gaza-Egypt frontier on Saturday, a day after Hamas used bulldozers to widen the breach of the 12-kilometer-long border to allow trucks to cross into Egypt. Egyptian police did not block the trucks' access and Palestinian sources said that the Egyptians would wait until Sunday before attempting to reseal the border. On Friday, hundreds of Hamas supporters protested on the breached Gaza-Egypt border to demand it remain open, while Egyptian troops poured cement and laid down metal spikes in a new attempt to halt the influx of Gazans. Gaza's Hamas rulers want a role in running the border with Egypt, a demand rejected this week by Egypt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. On Friday, about 600 Hamas supporters staged a rally about 100 meters from the nearest Egyptian border post. One large banner read: "Egypt and Palestine are one people, not two." A protester shouted, "Keep the border open." Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas hardliner, told the crowd that "we will not return to the siege," and accused the Abbas government of working for the interest of Israel. Some of the protesters jumped over metal barriers into Egypt, raising Hamas flags on the Egyptian side. Dozens of Egyptian border guards watched the scene, but did not intervene. In other developments Friday, Hamas released a senior Fatah official, after holding him for nearly seven weeks without charges. Omar al-Ghoul, an adviser to the prime minister of the West Bank government, Salaam Fayad, was the most senior Fatah official to be detained by Hamas since the Gaza takeover. Hamas has claimed al-Ghoul was held for illegal activities, but never provided details.