On March 17, the Egyptian Army warned citizens to be wary of people posing as army officers after authorities had discovered fabrics to make police and army uniforms in a smuggling tunnel with Gaza. The following day, Egyptian soldiers in Suez were given new uniforms as a result of the discovery of the fabrics.
According to the Associated Press, Egyptian authorities are now investigating whether the Palestinian terror group, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is linked to the seized fabrics. On March 17, a Hamas spokesman told an Egyptian TV station that the fabrics were not for Hamas members trying to infiltrate the Sinai, but rather for children in the Gaza Strip.
Today’s news comes just a few days after Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh declared that “Hamas will remain a protecting shield of Egypt and all attempts to drive a wedge between Palestine and Egypt will fail.”
Last week, Egyptian media outlets reported that a number of Hamas members were involved in the August 2012 attack on an Egyptian military base that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. While Hamas has denied ties to the attack, Egyptian authorities are also investigating whether there is a Hamas connection, according to the Associated Press.
And earlier today, Al Watan reported that the Egyptian army had thwarted a plot by Hamas and al Qaeda members to assassinate opposition figures as well as target “vital installations” throughout the Sinai. The day before, authorities reportedly detained a number of Palestinians who were trying to transport ammunition from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai.
According to Israeli officials, some of the recent stories in the Egyptian media, which have painted Hamas in a bad light, are part “of a media campaign…driven by Egyptian army officials and the Minister of Defense.” Egyptian intelligence officers recently visited Israel for talks with their Israeli counterparts on Hamas’ activities in Egypt and other regional issues, according to The Tower.
There are currently “unprecedented tight security measures in the Northern Sinai,” according to Al Ahram. The state-run outlet also reports that Egyptian attempts to shut down smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza continue.
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