Egypt rebuffed Israeli accusations that it is not doing enough to stop arms smuggling to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Ma’ariv on Monday published an extensive interview with a senior Cairo official hoping to demonstrate Egypt’s seriousness in sealing the border between its Sinai Desert and neighboring Gaza.
According to the unnamed official, the Egyptians this year have intercepted about 23 tons of explosives, 300 firearms, 50 rocket-propelled grenades and 300,000 bullets en route to Gaza. Egypt further said it arrested an unspecified number of Palestinians who left Gaza through Sinai with the intent of infiltrating Israeli territory to carry out terrorist attacks.
“We have no interest in nurturing a radical regime on our border,” the Egyptian official told Ma’ariv, referring to Hamas. “Israel’s accusations against us only strengthen the extremists.”
The official noted that there was smuggling into Gaza even when Israel controlled the territory, and that Egypt’s crackdowns are limited by its 1978 peace accord with Israel, which limits the size of its border garrison.
Some Israeli officials have said Cairo could do more in Sinai. Sympathetic U.S. lawmakers have threatened to trim congressional aid to Egypt over the issue.