Hamas: Egypt demanding answers on Shalit

Egypt’s secret police has questioned Gazans caught in the Sinai on the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit, Hamas said.

A Web site affiliated with the Palestinian Islamist movement reported Tuesday that dozens of Hamas members who were among thousands of Gazans who streamed into the Egyptian Sinai after the border was breached in January found themselves rounded up by Cairo’s security agents.

The Hamas members were harshly interrogated and sometimes tortured, with the Egyptians demanding they provide information about Shalit and the hiding places of senior terrorists in Gaza, the Web site reported.

Egypt has been trying to broker the return of Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas on the Gaza border in June 2006. Hamas wants Israel to free hundreds of jailed Palestinians as ransom, but Israel has balked at the roster.

Egypt does not publicly discuss its security practices, but Israeli officials have said privately that they have been impressed by the new zest with which Egyptian authorities have been operating in the Sinai since Hamas blew up the Gaza border.

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