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Egyptian forces intercept 17 rockets headed for Gaza



On Monday, an attempt to smuggle 17 short-range rockets into Gaza was foiled by Egyptian security forces. The rockets, said to be of the French-made SNEB 68 mm caliber air-launched unguided model, were reportedly confiscated 22 kilometers (13.67 miles) south of el Arish, in the northern Sinai.

The interception occurs just a few days after the Jerusalem Post reported that "Israel and Egypt are carrying on discussions in Cairo that could lead to the further easing of restrictions on the Gaza Strip and prevent a swift rearming of Hamas."

Following the institution of a ceasefire on Nov. 21 that brought an end to Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas officials claimed that the agreement did not prevent them from continuing their smuggling efforts. "There is no way to relinquish weapons .... These weapons protected us and there is no way to stop obtaining and manufacturing them," Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk told the Associated Press.

While Hamas seeks to continue its smuggling through Egypt's Sinai, the issue has garnered greater attention from US officials. According to a readout released by the White House, during a phone conversation on Nov. 21, President Barack Obama told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the ceasefire agreement provided the US with the opportunity "to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza."

An unnamed US official also told Haaretz in late November: "We will work with Israel and Egypt to prevent the smuggling ... We know that this is a critical issue for preserving stability here, especially given the fact that Iran will not stop trying to transfer weapons to Gaza. We all now understand that we must deal with the smuggling much more effectively than we have up till now."

In early December, a group of US senators called on Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi to increase efforts to prevent weapons smuggling by Gaza-based terror groups.

Thus far in December, no rockets or mortars fired from Gaza have landed in Israel. On Sunday, a rocket fired from Gaza toward Israel landed in the coastal enclave.



READER COMMENTS: "Egyptian forces intercept 17 rockets headed for Gaza"

Posted by mike merlo at December 25, 2012 2:41 PM ET:

another example of the Sinai of having careened out of control. Intercepting of this supposed consignment of 17 rockets is near meaningless.

Posted by Slow POKEY at December 25, 2012 6:07 PM ET:

I hope we continue to see these kind of operations from the Egyptians.

Posted by Bob at December 26, 2012 8:13 AM ET:

Why is it that we don't hear these kinds of reports in the national news media? It seems to me that the media in this country (USA) tends to ignore the REASONS that the israeli's retaliate. They seem content on reporting the plight of the civilians instead of focusing on the fact that the militants use the civilians as human shields. then cry foul when civilians are killed and injured. Hamas fighters are cowards hiding in the shadows and behind civilians. They wear masks because they are afraid of retaliation. What kind of warrior is that? These are facts that don't seem to get any attention. Thank you, LWJ for reporting stories without bias.

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at December 26, 2012 3:20 PM ET:

I think Israel would rather know how and who is doing the smuggling, keeping track of the routes, they now can shoot rockets down. The incident in Dubai may be linked to weapons smuggling.

Posted by JR at December 26, 2012 10:50 PM ET:

This is news? They're able to smuggle in and fire hundreds of Grads and Fajr rockets and Egypt claims this as a triumph? Laughable.

Spoiler Alert for next week: Egypt claims to have intercepted a crate of untaxed Avocados and seven AK-style magazines bound for the Gaza Strip.