Two Israelis arrested as they illegally crossed border
CAIRO: Police arrested a fourth person suspected of involvement in arms trafficking to the Gaza Strip, security sources said Wednesday.
A security official speaking on condition of anonymity said Ibrahim Saleh was captured Tuesday in northern Sinai.
The confessions of three other arms smugglers nabbed on Oct. 20 as they were transporting arms illegally led to the arrest. Saleh is believed to be one of the masterminds of a cell smuggling weapons from Sinai to Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. Security forces are still combing the area for more suspects. The arrest came as Egypt this week stepped up its border patrols following repeated Israeli accusations that it was not doing enough to prevent cross-border arms smuggling.
The number of Egyptian police has increased especially around the fields and farms where tunnels have previously been discovered, a security official said. These patrols will look for tunnels, which Palestinians are suspected of digging, and which link Rafah in Egypt to Rafah in Gaza, the source added on condition of anonymity. Last week, Egyptian authorities arrested three Bedouins on suspicion of attempting to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip from the northern Sinai. The official also said that control of Egypt s porous desert border with Israel would be tightened. Egypt has security concerns about foreigners and Bedouins crossing the border after having discovered a number of tunnels in recent days, he said. Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed concern about high-grade weapons being smuggled into the Gaza Strip, and have called on Egypt to take more effective action on its side of the border to clamp down on contraband. The Israeli cabinet is expected to discuss the possibility of retaking the so-called Philadelphi corridor along the border from which Israeli troops withdrew a year ago.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security authorities detained two Israeli men who crossed the border illegally near a holiday resort popular with Israeli tourists in Sinai, security officials said on Wednesday.
They said authorities were questioning Ofar Golan and Raz Marazi, who were arrested near the Taba resort, to determine their reason for entering Egypt illegally.
Israelis do not need visas to enter Sinai but are required to go through passport control at the border. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Most people arrested for illegal border crossing in Sinai are usually trying to reach Israel to find work. It is rare for Israelis to be caught sneaking into Egypt. More than 34 people were killed in attacks in Taba and another resort also popular with Israelis in 2004. Egypt has blamed the attack, along with two other series of bombings in Sinai, on an armed Islamist group called al-Tawhid wal Jihad (One God and Holy Struggle.) Authorities say the group is made up of Sinai Bedouins with revolutionary views.