“The Palestinians came from the Gaza Strip with a large amount of explosives and took part in the terrorist attack,” an official said.
The assertion renewed Egypt’s claim that Hamas continued to be involved in fueling the Sinai revolt. Officials said Iranian-backed elements in Hamas were working with Ansar Beit Maqdis and the ousted Muslim Brotherhood to sustain mass-casualty attacks in the peninsula.
Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi has blamed “foreign forces” for the Oct. 24 attack in northern Sinai. But Sisi did not blame the Palestinians.
A leading former security official, however, said the Palestinians arrived in Sinai from the tunnel network in the Gaza Strip. [Ret.] Maj. Gen. Samih Beshadi, former security chief in the North Sinai province, said the Palestinians also packed explosives into a car that rammed into an Egyptian Army checkpoint south of Sheik Zweid.
“There is no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks,” Beshadi told the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat.
The army was struck by another attack in northeastern Sinai, this time involving mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Beshadi said the Egyptian insurgents in Sinai do not possess the ability to conduct such attacks.
“All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements, including the attack on the military helicopter at the beginning of this year,”
Beshadi, referring to the downing of an Egyptian Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, said.
Officials said the government was reviewing plans to accelerate the formation of a one-kilometer buffer zone along the Gaza Strip. They said this would require the relocation of thousands of Egyptians who live in the divided city of Rafah, believed to contain most of the tunnels.
One Egyptian strategist, Sameh Seif Yazal, has gone further. Yazal, a retired general and director of the Republic Center for Strategic and Security Studies, called for the formation of an eight-kilometer buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip.
“This should be declared a military zone,” Yazal said.