The Hamas-run government in the Gaza strip again refused Monday to honor Egyptian requests to hand over terrorists from Gaza believed to have perpetrated a recent attack on a police station in the Sinai city of El-Arish, Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.
Citing a "well-placed Egyptian source," the report said that Egyptian authorities provided evidence to Hamas implicating the men who Egypt says escaped back into Gaza via tunnels.
With each request, Hamas officials reportedly gave different excuses for not handing over the wanted men, al-Masry al-Youm quoted the sources as saying.
On Monday, Egypt presented another official request for Hamas to arrest the Palestinians. Of the 15 terrorists who attacked and attempted to take over the el-Arish police station, 10 were identified by Egyptian authorities as being from Gaza, Egypt's Al-Ahram reported.
The requests come as Egypt this week launched a large military operation to rein in Islamic terrorists operating in Sinai from neighboring Gaza, including al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists.
The operation required Israeli approval as the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries limits the number of troops Egypt may move into the Sinai.
An Egyptian security official said that the operation is expected to last "a number of months," and that it would eventually proceed all the way to Rafiah, home of the sole border crossing between Sinai and Gaza. If so, it will be the first time significant numbers of Egyptian troops have approached Israel's southern border since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
On Sunday, the Egyptian military deployed 1,000 soldiers and hundreds of armored personnel carriers in the Sinai with the aim of uprooting terrorist infrastructure and restoring order to the peninsula which was lost following the revolution in Egypt in February.
One person was killed, and 16 others were arrested in Sinai on Monday as part of the raid launched by Egyptian troops and policemen.