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Egypt military: Hamas ‘exacerbating the situation in Sinai’ after Morsi’s ouster

Special to WorldTribune.com

LONDON — Egypt has been targeting Hamas fighters in the turbulent
Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian military sources said the current counter-offensive in Sinai
has led to the death and capture of scores of Hamas gunmen.

An Egyptian security checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula.

An Egyptian security checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula.

The sources said the gunmen came from Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip in wake of the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.

“Hamas is exacerbating the situation in Sinai after Mohammed Morsi’s ouster,” an Egyptian military officer said.

In an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Hayat on July 11, the unidentified officer said Egypt’s military and security forces have killed at least 32 Hamas fighters in Sinai in a week-long CI campaign. The officer
said another 45 Hamas fighters were captured.

“They enter Sinai through the tunnels to carry out attacks, along with
others, and then return to the Gaza Strip through the tunnels,” the officer
said. “They take advantage of the terrain and hide in the mountains.”

The Hamas regime has repeatedly denied operations in the Gaza Strip.
But Hamas sources acknowledged that Islamist militias in Sinai were
recruiting Palestinians.

“We can’t keep track of everybody but our own people, and they are not
involved in Egypt,” a Hamas security officer said.

On July 10, Islamist insurgents sought to assassinate the commander of
Egypt’s Second Army, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi. An Egyptian military spokesman said
Wasfi, identified as the head of the CI operation in Sinai, was driving in a
convoy near Sheik Zweid when he came under attack from a passing car.

“The driver was arrested and the others escaped,” Egypt’s official
Middle East News Agency said. “Two firearms and a U.S.-made binoculars were
found in the car.”

Other Egyptian security sources confirmed the CI campaign against Hamas.
They said Egyptian Army attacks on such insurgency strongholds as El Arish,
Rafah and Sheik Zweid have killed at least 200 fighters, including many from
Hamas and the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad.

The Egyptian officer said Hamas was believed to have been helping the Al
Qaida-aligned insurgency movement in Sinai. The officer said the CI campaign
was advancing slowly as the army and Central Security Forces struggled to
locate insurgency strongholds.

“We have detected movements of Hamas activists cooperating with
jihadists in Sinai,” the officer said. “We killed and arrested some of
them.”

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