By Charlie Miller
The armed forces have arrested two Palestinian men at a checkpoint in North Sinai, according to a statement released late on Monday.
A vehicle travelling in the direction of Cairo was stopped by soldiers from the Second Field Army operating a checkpoint close to the Peace Bridge.
Soldiers questioned the two men, who gave their names but were unable to produce passports or any other form of identification, according to the statement.
Upon searching the first individual, named by the military as Tarek Nahed Mashour, a forged Egyptian identity card in the name of Waleed Sobry Saeed Abdel-Aal was found concealed on his person. The identity card was registered to an address in Cairo.
The second man, Saeed Nagy Saeed Abu Amar, also held fake Egyptian ID card, registered to an address in the Al-Arish region of North Sinai. The name given on the card was Ahmed Mohammed Hussein Hosni.
Military Spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali confirmed that the Palestinians had been carrying forged documents and expressed his concern over further attempts to illegally produce and carry Egyptian identity cards. Colonel Ali noted that a machine used to print such cards was missing, and is suspected to have been stolen during the January 25th Revolution in 2011.
Upon further questioning, it was established that the two men had entered Egypt from the Gaza Strip via a network of underground tunnels, the report said. Historically, the trafficking of people, weapons and narcotics through these tunnels has been a cause of concern to Egyptian border guards, and multiple attempts to close them have been documented.
The Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip remains closed indefinitely following the recent unrest in North Sinai. A report published by Al-Monitor on Tuesday raised concerns of a fuel crisis in Gaza following the closure of the Rafah border crossing, a move which left a number of Egyptian citizens stranded in Gaza and around 800 Palestinians trapped on the Egyptian side after returning from performing Umrah (pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The two men are currently being held by the army whilst their threat level is assessed and their intent investigated, Ali confirmed. He added that the men will be returned to authorities in Gaza if their threat level is found to be insubstantial.