Hamas security forces in Gaza foiled an attempt by three suspected jihadists to sneak into Egypt and arrested them after an exchange of fire Friday, the terror group said.
The forces “foiled a dawn attempt to infiltrate Egypt by way of the southern Gaza Strip border,” according to the interior ministry of the Hamas-ruled coastal territory.
After shots were fired “the three gunmen were arrested,” it said, without reporting casualties on either side.
A Gaza security source told AFP that the three men were Palestinian members of “an extremist Salafist group,” a term used to refer to backers of foreign jihadist movements.
In August, two simultaneous Gaza suicide attacks attributed to Salafists killed three Gaza police officers.
The small extremist groups have also been blamed at times for intermittent rocket attacks on Israel.
Last Friday 10 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, one of which struck a home in the southern city of Sderot. The rockets set off warning sirens in Sderot and other communities in Israel’s south as many families were gathering for Shabbat dinner.
Israel responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, which reportedly killed one Palestinian and wounded two others.
An unnamed senior Hamas figure told the Haaretz newspaper the rocket launches were carried out without Hamas’s approval and were not the work of one of the major Palestinian factions.
Quoting Palestinian sources, Israel’s Channel 13 news reported that Hamas distanced itself from the rocket fire and told Egyptian mediators it was probing who was responsible.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.