Egypt's state prosecutor on Wednesday accused the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah of plotting to carry out attacks inside the country .
"The state prosecutor has received a statement from state security which shows that leaders from the Lebanese Hezbollah have called on its cadres to recruit members to its movement," according to a statement from the prosecutor obtained by AFP.
It charged that the campaign was launched with "the aim of carrying out acts of aggression inside the country," while Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had appointed members to carry out such actions.
Egyptian police have arrested 43 people in connection with the case, the prosecutor said, although it was not immediately clear when the arrests were carried out.
The men are suspected of having bought or rented homes in Rafah on the border with Gaza to smuggle weapons and contraband into the Palestinian enclave which is ruled by Hamas, a judicial source told AFP.
In January, Nasrallah, whose group is supported by Damascus and Tehran, slammed Egypt for keeping its Rafah border post with Gaza closed during an Israeli military offensive against the territory.
He accused Cairo of complicity in longstanding Israeli blockade on Gaza and cast doubt on Egypt's neutrality in efforts at the time to mediate a ceasefire.
Suspicion of aiding Hamas
Egyptian authorities are questioning a group of Egyptians, Lebanese and Palestinians on suspicion of helping the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, a lawyer for the men said Tuesday.
Lawyer Montasser al-Zayat said state security prosecutors began interrogating the men on Saturday, and said he had been denied access to his clients.
Zayat said authorities were accusing the men of "helping Hezbollah elements to send money and aid and food to Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza," but had not disclosed to him any official charges or accusations.
Egypt is eager to show that it is doing all it can to stop money or aid reaching Hamas. Israel and Egypt have mostly blockaded border crossings with Gaza after Hamas took it over in June 2007, and a network of tunnels now links the enclave with Egypt.
Israel, which is determined to stop Hamas from acquiring weapons, announced a ceasefire to its January war in Gaza only after receiving assurances from the U.S. and European countries to prevent Hamas from arming.
But Egypt, which has taken increasingly robust measures to crack down on the smuggling, denies weapons are smuggled from its territories, saying arms come to Gaza by sea.
Concerns abour support
The Egyptian government is also worried that public support for Gaza may boost the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ideological and historical ties with Hamas and is the strongest opposition group in Egypt.
According to Zayat seven Palestinians and three Lebanese are among the detained
Zayat said: "The information I'm getting is that state security is investigating the Egyptians' connections with these Lebanese elements that the authorities say act as a link with Palestinians in Gaza."
Egyptian authorities secretly detained at least 35 men in April 2007 on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. Their detention was revealed by Zayat several months later.