In an unprecedented rebuke of Hamas, a high-ranking Egyptian officer accused the organization of smuggling 19 rockets into Egypt with the intent of “terrorizing” Egyptian citizens.
Major General Osama Askar, commander of Egypt’s Third Field Army, said Wednesday that 19 Grad rockets intercepted by the military on the Suez-Cairo highway were of the same brand as those used by Hamas’s military wing Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and were on their way to Cairo “to help the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian people.”
“The confiscated rockets were enough to destroy an entire neighborhood, indicating they were on their way to be used in terror activities against the Egyptian people,” Askar told the Egyptian news site Aswat Masriya. He added that smuggled army uniforms captured by his troops last Sunday “were enough for an entire army.”
Egyptian media has long accused Hamas of collaborating with Sinai jihadists in destabilizing Egypt’s national security, accusations Hamas has been at pains to deny. Askar’s comments will be more difficult for Hamas’s leadership to rebuff.
With terrorist and criminal activity seen as emanating from smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, the Egyptian army has taken control of 39 tunnel openings in Sinai since early June, confiscating tons of fuel, building materials and food headed for the Gaza Strip, local media reported.
On Tuesday, Hamas spokesman Ihab Ghosein threatened to sue Egyptian media outlets that incite against Hamas, claiming that a premeditated campaign backed by certain Egyptian politicians has been waged “to tarnish the true image of the Palestinian people.”
“The only beneficiary of this is the Israeli occupation, which rejoices at the divide within the Arab and Islamic nation,” said Ghosein.