Hamas leaders escaping with hostages to Egypt via Gaza tunnels–report

Cairo has refused to allow Israeli drones in the area between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to target detected terrorist activity.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

According to sources in Lebanon, Israel officials believe weapons are being smuggled into Gaza from Egypt and there is a suspicion that Hamas leaders are escaping with Israeli hostages into Egypt through Gaza’s tunnels, a Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Wednesday.

The report also says the IDF is engaged in an operation to check for tunnels under the Philadelphi route from the Gaza Strip to Egypt.

Hamas leaders may be escaping using hostages as human shields and from Egypt they may be going further afield to Lebanon and Iran where they are likely to be protected.

The IDF is reportedly also extending its intelligence operations in Sinai, Sudan, and Libya.

Although Cairo assured Israel and the Americans that there was no indication of the presence of Hamas operatives on the Egyptian side of the border, Egyptian intelligence expressed willingness to cooperate in examining the information.

However, actual cooperation has proven difficult as Israelis have reported Egypt’s refusal to allow Israeli drones in the area between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to target detected terrorist activity such as rebuilding terror tunnels.

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Although Cairo agreed to install a warning system that would alert Israel about attempts to rebuild underground tunnels for smuggling arms, terrorists and hostages, it denied permission for Israeli drones to enter the area saying that it “would be a violation of Egyptian sovereignty.”

Earlier negotiations over the installment of the security system have stalled after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said publicly that Israel should have security controls over the Philadelphi route.

The report that Hamas leaders are using hostages as human shields as they flee or hide was supported by IDF military intelligence officials.

Former IDF general and head of IDF Military Intelligence Directorate  Amos Yadlin told Kan radio that the “butcher of Khan Younis” is “surrounded by hostages in the tunnel network in Gaza.”