Egyptian forces capture American-made missiles headed for Gaza Strip

Anti-tank, anti-aircraft and other rockets discovered in secret depot south of el-Arish in Sinai

Troops firing an anti-aircraft missile during training. (photo credit: Manuel Valdez, US Marine Corps/Department of Defense)
Troops firing an anti-aircraft missile during training. (photo credit: Manuel Valdez, US Marine Corps/Department of Defense)

Egyptian security forces say they discovered and captured a store of American-made missiles headed for the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Friday.

The missiles, discovered in the northern Sinai peninsula, included anti-tank and anti-aircraft projectiles, as well as rockets capable of reaching a number of ranges.

The forces captured the missiles in a secret depot south of el-Arish, after receiving intelligence information about the smuggling attempt.

A security source told Ma’an the missiles were about to be taken by truck to the smuggling tunnels at the border with Gaza and brought into the Palestinian enclave.

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The missiles are thought to have come in from Libya. Officials have feared, since the revolution in that country, that heavy arms could fall into the arms of Islamists and be smuggled into Sinai and Gaza.

In late December, Egyptian forces, along with local Bedouin, captured 17 French-made rockets that were to be smuggled into the Strip.

Egypt attempted to shut down the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai during a crackdown against terror in the peninsula in August. Hamas uses the tunnels to bring in weapons as well as other goods kept out by Israel’s blockade of the Strip.

Israel has accused Iran of manufacturing rockets and sending them into the Strip via Sinai, including the Fajr-5 rocket, which is capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

Israel launched an eight-day offensive in November to stop rocket fire into Israel from the Strip. During the conflict, Hamas fired over 1,500 rockets at Israel, many of which had been smuggled in via the tunnels.

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