A high-ranking Egyptian general on Wednesday accused Hamas of smuggling rockets into Egypt for use by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas started out as an offshoot of the Egyptian Brotherhood and maintained close ties with the deposed Egyptian regime led by Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi.
Maj. Gen. Osama Askar, commander of Egypt’s Third Army, accused Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, of smuggling 19 Grad rockets. Egyptian soldiers intercepted the rocket shipment along the Suez-Cairo highway, which Askar charged was on its way to Cairo to help the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The confiscated rockets were enough to destroy an entire neighborhood, indicating they were on their way to be used in terror activities against the Egyptian people,” Askar told reporters.
The captured rockets are the same type used by the Qassam Brigades against Israel.
Egyptian troops also discovered military uniforms last Sunday that that Askar said were “enough for an entire army.”
The Egyptian army has taken control of 39 smuggling tunnel opening between the Sinai and Gaza since early June amid escalating terrorist and criminal activities. Many tunnels have been destroyed, prompting Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to complain Gaza’s economy is being strangled. “We appreciate that Egypt has security needs,” he said, “but at the same time the needs of our people that should not be affected.”
Hamas has repeatedly denied meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs despite regular accusations in the Egyptian press. An Egyptian court implicated Hamas last month in the jailbreak that freed ousted Morsi in 2011.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri dismissed the accusations in a post on the Qassam Brigades websiteon Sunday, saying Hamas foes were trying to import the Egyptian crisis into the Palestinian context.
Another spokesman, Ihab Ghosein, claimed Hamas was being targeted by a campaign by certain Egyptian politicians to discredit the terror group. “They only beneficiary of this is the Israeli occupation, which rejoices at the divide within the Arab and Islamic nation,” Ghosein said.