Egypt boosts security on border with Israel

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Egypt is beefing up security on its border with Israel to prevent illegal crossings after detaining a group Cairo said were linked to Hezbollah, an enemy of the Jewish state, security sources say.
Egypt is holding 25 Egyptian, Palestinian, Sudanese and Lebanese men linked to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah group and has said they were planning attacks in Egypt, according to a statement from the public prosecutor’s office.
Earlier reports said Egypt detained 49 people. But the prosecutor’s statement, addressed to parliament and obtained by Reuters, said 25 out of 49 on a wanted list were held. State media said the group wanted to target Israelis and Egyptians.
Hezbollah, which has accused Egypt of failing to help Palestinians in Gaza, said one its members was detained and he was being helped by up to 10 others. Hezbollah said the group aimed to send military supplies to Gaza not target Egypt.
The arrests have been accompanied by a barrage of criticism of Hezbollah by newspapers in Egypt, which is majority Sunni and the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
“The number of Egyptian security patrols has been increased along the borders with Israel and police checkpoints near the border have been reinforced with additional police,” one security source said.
A lawyer for some of the men, Abdel Moniem Abdel Maqsoud, said that one of his clients told investigators he had been involved in assisting Palestinians planning to infiltrate Israel to carry out attacks.
Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is a popular tourist destination for Israelis and Egyptian media have suggested the group aimed to target resorts frequented by Israelis.
The security source said new barriers had been set up along some of the mountainous paths near the border and Bedouin tribal elders had been asked to report any strangers in the area.
Israeli newspapers said the Israeli army planned to boost border security but a military spokesman would not confirm this.
Security sources said police were combing Sinai in search of men wanted in connection with the group of 49, focusing on the mountainous areas frequented by smugglers. One source said police were searching for 10 Lebanese and three Sudanese men.
The sources said Bedouin tribesmen, angry at raids in their area, had exchanged fire with police but no one was injured.
Tensions with north Sinai Bedouin have never entirely subsided since Egyptian police detained thousands of young Sinai men several years ago after a series of bombings shook south Sinai’s tourist resorts. Most were later freed without charge.