Israel Fears al-Qaeda Infiltration into Gaza from Egypt

(Ha'aretz) Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel, and Arnon Regular - After the collapse of the Gaza-Egyptian border in the three days since Israel withdrew from the Strip, Israel is fearful not only of massive arms smuggling into Gaza, and consequently to the West Bank, but also that al-Qaeda operatives will be able to enter Gaza freely. The border collapse is occurring at a time when Egypt is having trouble eliminating al-Qaeda cells in Sinai, and Jerusalem fears that al-Qaeda will renew its efforts to send operatives into Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli intelligence officials say Palestinian terror organizations have been making a concerted effort in the last few days to smuggle as many weapons as they can into Gaza via the breached border with Egypt, which wanted Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists have been crossing freely. "All the terror organizations are working energetically now," an IDF source said. "The goal is to bring in large quantities of weapons before the Egyptians close the breach." Some militants who have stayed out of Gaza for fear of being arrested by Israeli security forces are now heading back in. In addition, Israeli officials are worried about Palestinians who have crossed the border into Sinai and may continue south, from where they can infiltrate into Israel in areas where there is no fence between Egyptian territory and the Negev, in an effort to carry out terror attacks in Israel. Israeli forces Thursday arrested 20 Palestinian from Gaza attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Sinai.

2005-09-15 00:00:00

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