Monday, April 30, 2012

Roth - Just in from Sinai

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
29 April '12..

This being the factually-creative Middle East, there are competing versions of what is going on in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai desert peninsula.

We noted on the eve of the Passover festival a few weeks ago (see "5-Apr-12: The terrorists send us their Passover greetings" that when a missile crashed into Israel's holiday capital Eilat in the deep south of our small state, causing consternation among citizens and hotel-keepers alike, Egypt's director of security for the Sinai sector, Mahamoud El-Hefnawy, asserted about as confidently as a man can, that the rocket fire did not emanate from Sinai. In fact

"The situation in the southern sector is excellent. There are regular patrols and stakeouts across all roads"

he said. And he should know (we noted), though we wondered how this squares with the numerous attacks on the gas line between Egypt and Israel that managed to get past the ever-alert Egyptian security forces and put the pipeline out of action more than a dozen times in the past year.

What a difference three-and-a-half-weeks make. Egypt cancelled its contract to supply gas to Israel six days ago, substantially reducing the pressure on Egyptian security forces who presumably will no longer have to contend with further acts of sabotage on the pipeline.

But to remind us that not everything is as rosy as Mahamoud El-Hefnawy's optimistic words, there's this in today's Egypt Independent (hat tip to Challah Hu Akbar):

Security services in Sinai arrested Sunday two members of the Ezz Eddin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military arm, according to the Interior Ministry. Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, 34, and Haytham Ibrahim Shehata, 37, both from Ramallah, were ambushed by security staff while riding in a taxi, a security source from the ministry said. The suspects admitted entering Sinai through border tunnels in Rafah, the source said. They were referred to the military prosecution for questioning. Around 1,000 underground tunnels are thought to have been dug in recent years along the 13-km border between Egypt and Gaza, providing a lifeline for the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza after Israel imposed a blockade on the territory after Hamas took power in 2007. The tunnels are usually 25 meters deep and more than 600 meters long, according to press reports. They link open areas inside Gaza with farms and houses on the Egyptian side. Israel has frequently accused Hamas of using them to smuggle weapons.

Too early to understand the full context of this report. But it does create an expectation that Egypt, heading towards its first Moslem Brotherhood government, and the Hamas regime in Gaza may be about to have what diplomats like to call a full and frank exchange of views.

This might be a good time to refer our readers to "11-Dec-11: Hamas shifts some of its terrorist infrastructure into Egyptian territory".


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