Egypt Says Hamas Helped Organize Sinai Car Bombing Which Killed Dozens of Troops
A week prior to the complex attack, at least three Hamas members ferried rockets through one of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the 13-km-long Rafah-area border, which Egyptian officials said exited within a house.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militants used the munitions in the ambush, which killed 34 troops.
Israel destroyed some 33 similar attack tunnels dug under Israeli territory, in this summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
Prior to the attack, an as-yet-unidentified individual surveilled the planned site of the explosion and reported details on numbers of troops and officers deployed in the area, according to the report.
On Wednesday, Egypt began the first stage of evacuating about a thousand residents living near the volatile border, according to Egypt’s Al-Masri Al-Yawm.
Photos of the operation showed bulldozers razing structures, and explosive demolitions of an estimated 680 houses located within 300-meters of the border.
On Sunday, Al-Masri Al-Yawm said the government of President El-Sisi ordered the construction of a 13km security wall, reaching from the Rafah area to the Mediterranean coast, quoting Maj.-Gen. Sameh Seif Yazal, who it said was a strategic and military expert.
On Sunday and Monday, residents of the Gaza-Egypt border city of Rafah could hear powerful explosions as homes suspected of containing tunnel entrances were being demolished as part of a plan announced by the Egyptian government to carve out a security buffer zone in the region.
“Efforts are continuing to deal with the danger of the tunnels, which are becoming more sophisticated. Criminal and terrorist elements are using homes and houses of worship as part of their operations,” an Egyptian defense official stated, Haaretz reported.
Additionally, an Egyptian Cabinet commission reviewing pardons and citizenship granted by former president Mohamed Morsi, has already revoked the citizenship of 800 people, including Palestinians, according to The Egyptian Independent.
Security sources told the newspaper that the citizenship, which it said was granted illegally, include senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has instructed officials to vet the citizenship granted to as many as 13,000 Palestinians since the 2011 uprising, focusing on possible terror group ties.