Egypt intercepts 19 Grad rockets, military equipment

Rockets beleived to be Cairo bound; report comes amid major military buildup in Sinai

Illustrative photo of a Grad rocket being fired.(Jorge Novominsky/Flash90/File)
Illustrative photo of a Grad rocket being fired.(Jorge Novominsky/Flash90/File)

The Egyptian military intercepted a shipment of 19 Grad rockets concealed in a truck bound to Cairo from the port of Suez, Egyptian media reported on Wednesday. The driver of the vehicle was apprehended in possession of an automatic rifle and ammunition.

An army spokesman confirmed the seizure to the Daily News Egypt website. The military believes the discovery is related to the ongoing violence in Sinai.

Grad rockets are surface-to-surface missiles typically mounted on trucks that have a range of up to 30 kilometers. Originally developed by the Soviets, Hamas in the Gaza Strip has fired hundreds of what is believed to be locally constructed, Iranian designed Grads at Israel, and a number of rockets have also been fired at Israel from the Sinai.

On Tuesday, the army announced the seizure of a large shipment of military-style equipment near Suez, which was found in a shipping container labeled as containing curtains and household decorations.

The equipment, valued at some 1 million Egyptian pounds (around $143,000) included military boots, camouflage military clothing, kit bags, equipment for maintaining rifles and pistols, cartridge belts and dozens of military style tents.

Egypt is currently carrying out a major crackdown in the Sinai, which has grown increasingly lawless since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

On Monday Israel gave Egypt permission, as required by the Camp David accords, to deploy two more infantry battalions in Sinai, bringing the Egyptian presence up to 11 battalions, plus tanks, helicopters and support personnel, ahead of a major offensive against militants in the strip.

Attacks on the Egyptian army have stepped up since Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was deposed in a coup earlier this month, with reports of Hamas members infiltrating Sinai to fight security forces.

The recent efforts of the Egyptian military are the first truly effective Egyptian operation against terror groups operating in the Sinai, a senior Israeli source told the Times of Israel on Monday.

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