Egypt Hunting Sinai Terror Cell Believed to Be Targeting Israelis

Security officials in Israel have voiced concern recently in regard to a rise in Hamas activity in the peninsula.

Egyptian security forces are searching for a seven-man unit of Islamist terrorists believed to be trying to infiltrate Sinai from Gaza and carry out attacks against Israelis, Palestinian news agency Maan reported over the weekend.

 Sinai- Michal Fattal
Michal Fattal

Security officials in Israel have voiced concern recently in regard to a rise in Hamas activity in the peninsula, saying Hamas appears to see Sinai as an area where Israel can be attacked without triggering an Israeli retaliation in the Gaza Strip.

The organization maintains its ceasefire in the Strip itself, and usually tries to restrain smaller factions seeking to fire rockets into the Negev.

Hamas activists in Gaza are believed to have established a connection with Sinai units linked to global Jihad organizations toeing the ideological line of Al-Qaida and similar groups.

Maan reported one of the members of the unit is believed to have been involved in the latest firing of Grad rockets from Sinai to Aqaba, Jordan, and Eilat. The agency said members of the unit were detained and released some three months ago.

On Thursday, Maan reported Egyptian forces had detained 25 residents of Rafah and El-Arish, on suspicion of membership in a Islamic terrorist group seeking to attack Israeli tourists and UN forces. Some of those arrested reportedly confessed to having been in touch with militant Muhammad Namnam, assassinated by the IDF in Gaza a week and a half ago.

Namnam , 27, a key member of "The Army of Islam," was killed when his car exploded outside a Gaza police station. He was reportedly in contact with Hamas officials and was suspected of planning a suicide bombing. The assassination was authorized in a bid to thwart the bombing.

Over the weekend, Time magazine reported Namnam's assassination was prompted by information relayed by Egyptian intelligence to Israeli security forces. Namnam's target, the magazine reported, were American forces stationed in Sinai. A week ago, a suspected Hamas activist was arrested in the town of Tel Sheva, near Beer Sheva.