The Egyptian Coast Guard has enforced a blockade over the coast of northern Sinai. They said the blockade was meant to stop the flow of Al Qaida-aligned fighters and weapons into the turbulent peninsula.
“The ban will remain indefinitely,” an official said.
The move would suspend fishing operations along the northern Sinai coast. They said the blockade would be tightest around the coastal city of El Arish, believed to contain insurgency strongholds.
At least 1,000 infiltrators have entered Sinai since a military counter-insurgency campaign in May 2013. Officials said many of the infiltrators were Palestinians who had been blocked from entering through the tunnels that spanned the border with the Gaza Strip.
The Coast Guard has been intercepting small boats believed to have left the nearby Gaza coast. Those arrested were said to have included members of Hamas as well as the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad.
“The infiltration from Gaza stems mostly via the sea after we blocked the tunnels,” the official said. “But we know that there have been terrorists sent specifically for operations in Sinai.”