Escaped Hamas prisoner returns to Gaza


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Hamas prisoner who escaped from an Egyptian prison during the recent unrest returned to Gaza.

Ayman Nofal, 34, who was arrested three years ago in the Sinai Peninsula and accused of planning bomb attacks, was given a hero’s welcome in his hometown in central Gaza on Sunday.

Five other Palestinian terrorists serving time in Cairo prisons returned home to Gaza last week, according to reports. The men sneaked back into Gaza through Egypt-to-Gaza smuggling tunnels, according to reports.

Nofal served as a field commander for the Hamas military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas had worked for his release and accused Egypt or torturing him.

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that Israel last week refused a second Egyptian request to deploy even more troops in the Sinai Peninsula. The paper cited a senior military source.

Israel early last week acceded to a request by Egypt to deploy about 800 troops in the Sinai; under the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the Sinai is to remain demilitarized.

Over the weekend, a gas terminal in Sinai exploded, leading to a suspension in gas supplies to Israel from Egypt. The explosion was said to be the work of terrorists.

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