Special to WorldTribune.com, November 22, 2012
CAIRO — Egypt, pressed by Israel and the United States, have reported the seizure of a major rocket shipment bound for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Egyptian security forces were said to have captured one of the largest weapons transport smuggled from Libya and headed for the Gaza Strip.
Officials said Egyptian military and police units intercepted a truck near Libya that contained 108 BM-21 Grad rockets and 400,000 rounds of anti-aircraft artillery shells. Later, the Egyptian-controlled media said about 20,000 rounds were found.
“Security authorities stationed in the Ras Al Hekma area found the weapons in a vehicle that had driven off the road,” Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency said.
MENA said the seizure took place early Nov. 21 on a road near the Mediterranean Sea. The news agency said no arrests were made.
Egypt has been cited as the leading facilitator of the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which went into effect on late Nov. 21. Officials said the ceasefire accord included an Egyptian commitment to intensify efforts to stop weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
Officials said Egyptian intelligence and security agencies have been ordered to focus on weapons convoys from Libya. They said smugglers have been using the Matrouh highway along the Mediterranean coast.
Still, Israel and the United States were said to have determined that Hamas and Palestinian militia allies continued to receive daily supplies of missiles and rockets from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. They said the massive tunnel network that links Sinai and Gaza was operating smoothly.
“The tunnels do not represent a problem,” a senior Egyptian security official was quoted by the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat as saying.
The weapons from Libya have also been transferred to Al Qaida-aligned cells in Sinai. Egyptian Army and police units have come under nearly daily attacks by Bedouin gunmen, who have been targeting a paramilitary base near El Arish.
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