Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi did not attend the military funeral on Tuesday for 16 soldiers killed in an attack over the weekend, with the Global Jihad organization in Sinai suspected as culprits, receiving Palestinian support from the Gaza Strip.
The government in Cairo said gunmen behind Sunday's attack had reached Egypt via the Gaza smuggling tunnels.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali revealed to state television that Morsi chose not to attend the funeral to allow mourners to gather without the kind of reinforced security his presence would have warranted.
In the meantime, Ahram Online daily reported that president Morsi visited the injured soldiers from Sunday's attack . The four injured, two of them from the armed forces and the other two from the police, are receiving treatment in a military hospital in Cairo. He was greeted upon his arrival to the hospital by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the Minister of Defense.
However, the funeral was attended by Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, who faced an angry crowd of mourners, state media reported.
Meanwhile, Israel has returned to Egypt the bodies of six attackers involved in the attack that killed the 16 Egyptian border guards. The bodies of the attackers were transferred by Israel to the Egyptian authorities last night. The Israeli army said in a statement that the road to the Kerem Shalom crossing, where the attackers infiltrated Sunday, was reopened this morning.
Following the attack, Egyptian defense minister, Hussein al-Tantawi, has announced that Egyptian soldiers in Sinai will be allowed to shoot if attacked without needing to wait for any orders from him.
On Monday, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of being behind Sunday's attack.
A statement on the group's website said "Evidently, this crime may well be the work of Israel's Mossad."
On the other hand, Israel's foreign ministry dismissed the Muslim Brotherhood's claims as "nonsense."
Israeli Ynet news daily reported that Israel's foreign ministry spokesman said that even the person who says this when he looks at himself in the mirror does not believe the nonsense he is uttering.
On Tuesday, Egypt began work to seal off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip. A Reuters correspondent in the border town of Rafah said heavy equipment was brought to the Egyptian side of the tunnels, which are used to smuggle people to and from Gaza but also food and fuel that are a lifeline for the Gaza Strip.
More as it becomes available.