Egypt Wants to Question Three Sr. Hamas Men

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Egyptian intelligence services have asked Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh to hand over three senior members of the group's "military wing," the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, suspected of assisting terrorists in the Sinai.

Quoting the Arabic-language daily Al-Quds, YNet names the three as Ayman Nufal, Raad al-Attar, and Muhammad abu Smala.

According to the report, Hamas agreed to hand them over but the three men refused, citing fear of torture in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities reportedly believe the three provided logistical assistance and weapons to Islamist terror cells operating in Sinai.

Nufal, who served time in an Egyptian prison for planning terror attacks, escaped during last year's uprising and entered Gaza via a smuggling tunnel.

Al-Attar helped plan the June 2006 cross-border attack on an Israeli army outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The terrorists killed two soldiers, injured three, and kidnapped Gilad Shalit, who spent more than five years in solitary confinement in Gaza before being released for nearly 1,000 Arab prisoners in October 2011.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian army continued its crackdown on Sinai-based terror cells, Thursday. Earlier, Egyptian police exchanged fire with armed gunmen in al-Arish.

On Wednesday, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fired several senior officials, including intelligence chief Murad Muwafi and the commander of the presidential guards. He also ordered Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the military police commander.

Some said Morsi was responding to the public outcry over the murder of 16 soldiers breaking the Ramadan fast at an army base near the Rafah border.

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