Hamas Nabs Two Islamic Jihad Men Preparing to Fire Mortars at Israel

Since Cast Lead, Hamas has arrested several militants trying to launch rockets from Gaza at Israel.

Two militants preparing to fire mortars into Israel were detained Saturday by interior security officials of the Islamic Hamas movement, reported a group to which the militants claim membership.

The statement, from the Saraya al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, announced the arrest of their members Saturday, reporting that the two men had been arrested as they engaged an Israel Defense Forces unit along the border of Israel and the eastern Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which has held de facto control of the Gaza Strip since June 2007, has stopped rocket attacks on Israel, in an unofficial, unannounced and fragile ceasefire with Israel that was reached January 18 at the end of the last Israeli military offensive into Gaza.

Since the end of the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, Hamas has arrested several militants from other factions trying to launch homemade rockets from Gaza at southern Israel.

The group added one of the two men is wanted by Israel and had been previously injured in an Israel Air Force attack on Islamic Jihad militants several months ago. The other is a brother of a suicide bomber who was killed near the Gaza-Israel border in 2004.

Egypt is mediating a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and working to finalize a prisoners' swap with the Islamic movement in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in captivity in Gaza since June 2006.

Four Palestinians wounded in smuggling tunnel collapse

Four Palestinian workers were wounded on Saturday when a tunnel they were building to smuggle goods across the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip collapsed, Palestinian medics said.

The wounded were being treated for suffocation and other injuries at Rafah's Abu Yusef al-Najjar hospital. Two were in stable condition, medics said, adding that rescue crews were still scouring the area, fearing that others might still be trapped.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza Interior Ministry said that Egyptian security forces had in recent days redoubled their efforts to find and destroy smuggling tunnels across the border that bisects the town of Rafah, and that they had found and destroyed "a number of tunnels."

Egypt has been under consistent international pressure, particularly from the United States and Israel, to do more to stop the smuggling of weapons and other goods into the Gaza Strip since the blockade of the territory began in 2007.