Egyptian security forces have raised their security alert across the Sinai Peninsula after receiving a detailed warning that Palestinian militants were planning to fire rockets at Israel and Jordan from there, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Sunday.
The Egyptian security forces said a militant cell comprising mostly Hamas members infiltrated the peninsula and smuggled in long-range Grad rockets through tunnels dug along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt. The militants were planning to carry out attacks in the near future, the news agency reported.
Meanwhile, a top Hamas security official was arrested at Cairo International Airport for using falsified travel documents, Egyptians officials said on Sunday. Mohammed Dababish's relatives said he was returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia when he was stopped.
Dababish is a top official in Hamas' internal security unit, which oversees intelligence matters in Gaza. Hamas officials declined to comment.
Egypt has arrested several Hamas figures, including the son of a Hamas cabinet minister, since an Egyptian soldier was killed in a border shooting early this year. Egypt believes a Hamas sniper was responsible for the shooting.
Dababish's name was on a wanted list for using falsified travel documents to enter and leave the country, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
He was also questioned about an illegal shipment of walkie-talkies interdicted by police in Sinai and apparently destined for Gaza, they added.
The warning did little to deter the approximately 1,500 Israelis who crossed into Egypt via the Taba border crossing over the past three days.
Data from the Israel Airports Authority (which controls the Israeli side of the crossing) indicate that nearly 3,000 people crossed through the border from Israel to Egypt on Thursday, about one-third of whom were Israeli. On Friday, ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday, 1,000 people crossed the border, about half of them Israeli. On Saturday night, after the holiday, only around 70 people crossed over, half of them Israeli. Figures were slightly higher all three days for people traveling from Egypt to Israel.
Five Grad rockets were fired last month from Sinai on Eilat and the neighboring Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Two of those rockets fell in the Red Sea in Israeli territory, and a third exploded in an agricultural area within Israel. The other two rockets struck a populated hotel zone in Aqaba. None of the rockets that struck Israeli territory caused casualties or damages, but one person was killed and three were wounded in Jordan.
Two months before that, two 107-mm Katyusha rockets were fired from Sinai on the same area.
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