CAIRO: Egyptian security forces made a series of arrests in the areas of Rafah and Sheikh Zowayed Thursday searching for weapons sources told Daily News Egypt.
Security forces in the area, with reinforcements from Ismailia, began incursions from 10 am and intensified arrests during the afternoon as they searched for weapons or people who might be selling arms to Palestinians.
Activist, journalist and member of the North Sinai Tagammu party Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt that authorities had used the pretext of looking for residents wanted on prior convictions to make random arrests and conducting house searches for weapons.
Egypt has come under increasing pressure to prevent the flow of weapons into Gaza through tunnels beneath the border, but ever since the border wall was breached last month there have been fears that the smuggling had become less circumspect.
Matters have considerably calmed since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians poured into the Egyptian side of Rafah after Hamas had blown and bulldozed parts of the border wall. The border has been resealed and the Rafah border crossing has remained closed.
However, Hamas is urging Egypt to reopen the crossing and has insisted that it will not be ignored when it comes to controlling the border.
Hamas officials, led by Ayman Abu Taher and Tarek Abu Hashem, met with Egyptian security officials last Tuesday to discuss the reopening of the border.
The meeting was held inside one of the offices of the Rafah crossing and discussions were held on the security of the wall as well as conveying a Hamas apology for bombing an Egyptian military installation in Rafah, Singer said.
Additionally, Hamas was requesting the Egyptian authorities release 40 of its members who were arrested in the past month, according to Singer.
Egypt wants to return to a 2005 agreement which saw the border crossing monitored by EU observers and guarded by the Palestinian Authority not Hamas.
The border breach saw an influx of Palestinians shopping for goods not available in Gaza as it suffered from a complete siege by Israel which, at one point, had prevented fuel shipments into the territory.
“There is talk of converting Rafah into some sort of free economic zone where Palestinian and Egyptian traders can meet and exchange goods, but at the moment this is just speculation, Singer said.