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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sinai’

5 Dead, 14 Injured as Tourist Bus Explodes Near Eilat

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

A tourist bus standing about 50 meters south of the Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt, on the Egyptian side, exploded Sunday afternoon. Israeli EMT ambulances from the nearby city of Eilat have rushed to the scene of the explosion, which was initially declared by MDA to be a mass casualty event.

Al Ahram quotes Security sources who say that 4 Korean tourists are dead and at least 14 others injured (down from an originally estimated 27 injured), of different nationalities, who were on the bus when it exploded. There were 30 tourists on the bus.

This number killed has now been updated to 5 confirmed dead, which includes the Egyptian driver,

The bus was on its way to Israel at the time, after visiting St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai.

There are conflicting reports if the tourist bus was hit by a missile or if a bomb was planted in the front of the bus. The governor of Southern Sinai Khaled Fouda said he suspects there was a bomb at the front of the bus, but he stresses he can’t be sure.

The Israeli police released a statement that there were no Israelis on the bus. The IDF said that the Egyptians are handling the rescue operation.

Egypt has been fighting Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda related terrorists in the Sinai.

Al Ahram describes a pattern of bombings and assassination attempts that has been growing since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July. Morsin is currently on trial in Egypt for espionage and assisting Islamic terrorists commit terror attacks against Egypt.

In 2004, a bomb blast at a Hilton Hotel in Taba killed 31 people.

IDF Says 170,000 Enemy Missiles Pointed at Israel

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The head of IDF Intelligence said on Wednesday that enemy countries have 170,000 missiles ready to be fired on Israel, a threat that is worse than the Iranian nuclear program.

The numbers have been known before the sum total was announced by Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. It has been reported dozens of times that Hezbollah has anywhere between 60,000 and 100,000 missiles It also is a given that Syria, Hamas and Sinai terrorists have an arsenal in the tens of thousands.

Kochavi, speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv, also said that cyber warfare is the greatest revolution in warfare since the invention of gunpowder and that Israel.

Terrorists Attack Eilat with 2 Missiles

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Terrorists  attacked Eilat with two Grad missiles early Monday evening, without causing damage or property damage.

The IDF has confirmed earlier reports of the rocket explosions, and security forces are combing the area to find the location of impact, a process that could take up to several days. Last month, the location of a missile attack on the area was discovered after five days.

It was not clear if the missiles were launched from the Sinai or central Gaza, but in either case, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or their brethren probably were involved.

Monday evenings missiles attacks – the media usually causes them “rockets” so it sounds a lot better for the peace process – shook windows and buildings in the tourist city. One witness saw a flash in the sky before one of the explosions.

The IDF has not yet retaliated for Monday’s attacks. An Israeli military official was quoted last week as saying, “We won’t go back to a situation where three or four times a week the red alarm sounds in southern Israeli towns.”

To the extent that the early warning sirens did not sound in Eilat, the IDF is technically off the hook, but the sentiment in the government, and in Israel, is that it is time to stop playing “rocket roulette:” because one eday, one of those little missiles is not going to fall in an open area but rather God forbid, on a home or kindergarten.

Israel’s problem, and it is a problem only because the government makes it one, is that a strong counter terrorist campaign would blow up the so-called peace talks.

Al Qaeda Cell Claims It Was behind Suicide Bombing in Sinai

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

The “Champions of Jerusalem” Al Qaeda-linked terrorist cell, which calls itself Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed it was behind Tuesday’s deadly suicide bombing of the police headquarters in the northern Sinai city of Mansoura.

A statement by the terrorist group asserted that the attack, which killed at least 15 people, was in retaliation for Egypt’s campaign to jail Muslim Brotherhood officials following their ouster this past summer.

Hamas denied it was involved in the suicide bombing,

The Egyptian army said on Wednesday that it foiled plans by Hamas terrorists to attack another site in the northern Sinai. Egypt’s military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement that the army arrested “a Palestinian belonging to Hamas who illegally entered Egypt… in a car with North Sinai license plate.”

The suspect admitted he intended to blow up his car in front of a security building.

After Ergdogan, Next Hamas Meeting is with Iran

Friday, October 11th, 2013

After the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has been seeking out new partners to help support his Gaza based Islamic dictatorship and its ongoing terror activities against Israel and Egypt.

The military regime in Egypt has had almost enough of Hamas’s support for terror in the Sinai, and last week contemplated a direct military strike on Gaza. Epypt has been destroying Gaza’s terror tunnels in an attempt to stop the attacks against Egyptians in the Sinai.

Hamas leader Mashal met with Turkish PM Erdogan in Anakara this week to ensure and solidify Turkey’s support for Hamas.

Next week, Mashaal will be flying to Iran, for the first time in two years.

Iran’s financial support of Hamas has been dwindling over the past few years, and Mashal wants to get it back.

In order to help win Iranian support, Hamas is repositioning itself in favor of the Assad regime.

Mashal’s message this week has been for a third Initfada, and for everyone to point their guns and rifles at their united enemy – Israel.

Car Bomb in Sinai Kills 4

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

A car bomb exploded in the Sinai on Thursday morning, killing 3 Egyptian soldiers and 1 Egyptian policeman.

After the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Is Hamas in Gaza Next in Line?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Originally published at Israel and Terrorism.

Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic. Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza have stopped functioning as a result of Egyptian measures, leading to the potential loss of nearly 40 percent of Hamas’ revenues.

With the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt counting its dead by the hundreds and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them far from over, and with its relations with Turkey and Qatar faltering, Hamas has instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013, it has embarked on a punitive campaign against Hamas, the self-declared offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood.

During this time, the Egyptian army has destroyed more than 300 tunnels (out of as many as 800), the arteries of the Gaza economy; created a 500-meter-wide buffer zone along the 11 km. Gaza-Egypt border, from the Mediterranean Sea until the Israel-Egypt border south of Rafah, while razing scores of inhabited buildings that stood in the way;1 implemented a de-facto siege on Gaza by closing intermittently the official Israel-Egypt border crossing; chased Gaza fisherman at sea; and engaged in an unprecedented and coordinated media smear campaign against Hamas, accusing the terrorist group of trying to destabilize Egypt and ultimately replace the government with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Indeed, Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas. The Egyptian army has massed troops, deployed combat helicopters, dispatched navy patrol boats, and is carrying out coordinated attacks against concentrations of terrorists in Sinai.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

Hamas’ Strong Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

There is no doubt that the origin of the Egyptian military’s actions against Hamas lay in the basic fact that during the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the Morsi presidency, Hamas enjoyed a privileged position and almost an official adoption by the regime, to such a point that Hamas behaved as if it was part of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. For example, Hamas enjoyed complete freedom for its illegal commerce through the 650-800 tunnels that linked the Gaza Strip to Egypt; for its assistance to jihadi groups in Sinai; for its unaccountability for the six Egyptian police officers kidnapped and held in Gaza for more than five years; and, ultimately, for ignoring the Egyptian armed forces’ warnings since Hamas was (according to some sources) led by government officials who issued instructions to ignore the Egyptian army since it was irrelevant.

However, beyond these facts, the actual ruling team in Egypt knows that Hamas was involved in the earliest days of the revolution against President Mubarak, when protesters stormed Egyptian prisons and freed hundreds of detainees, who were mostly Muslim Brothers, as well as Hizbullah and Palestinian operatives held in Egypt for terrorist activities. Hamas took part alongside the Egyptian Muslim Brothers in the violence against the Mubarak regime and, according to some press releases, Hamas operatives were involved in firing metal darts against anti-Morsi protesters loyal to the regime.2

In addition, the Egyptian armed forces accuse Hamas of harboring the jihadists that killed almost 30 Egyptian officers and soldiers in Sinai in the summer of 2012. The Egyptian army also claims that at least five Hamas operatives were involved in the execution of 25 unarmed Egyptian policemen near el-Arish on August 19, 2013.3 The Egyptian army has also accused Hamas of trying to smuggle hundreds of deadly weapons, including 19 Grad rockets, and fake Egyptian army uniforms, in order to create havoc inside Egypt.4

Currently, 15 major terrorist groups operate in Sinai. Each of these groups, without exception, is closely linked to terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian and Israeli authorities are aware that several of the most dominant jihadists in Sinai, including those who were involved in the attack against the Egyptian army in 2012, are now hiding in Gaza with Hamas’ knowledge and consent.5 Finally, Hamas is accused of harboring the new Muslim Brothers’ Supreme Guide, Mahmoud Ezzat, in Gaza and of conducting joint training between Muslim Brothers who found refuge in Gaza and elements of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the area of Khan Younes before sending them to Sinai and inside Egypt.6

Economic Pressure in Gaza

Given what is happening in Egypt now, Hamas is alarmed. For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic.7 The cost to Hamas is tremendous: Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip have stopped functioning as a result of the Egyptian measures. According to the Gaza economic ministry, the recent tunnel destruction has cost Gaza around $230 million.8 Hamas spokesmen appealed to the Egyptian authorities asking them not to shut down the tunnels until Hamas could find other channels for bringing goods into Gaza. The extent to which Hamas relies on the smuggling tunnels is evident in an internal report made public by the Al-Monitor news site. It shows that Gaza gets most of its goods through the tunnels, and not through the official border crossings from Israel or Egypt. In the first quarter of 2013, for example, the tunnels provided 65 percent of flour, 98 percent of sugar and 100 percent of steel and cement deliveries.9

If the delivery of goods via the tunnels is discontinued, a lack of supplies will not be the only problem. It will create financial disaster for Hamas, since taxes on goods delivered via Israel are transferred to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Only taxes on smuggled goods end up in the Hamas treasury. It has been estimated that these taxes account for 40 percent of the government’s entire revenue and are used by Hamas to pay the salaries of over 45,000 civil servants. In recent months, Hamas has been earning some $8 million in taxes on smuggled fuel alone, and also levies a tax of about $5.40 on every ton of cement. An average of 70,000 tons of cement is smuggled into Gaza every month.10

Hamas’ leaders are consulting over how, and even if, they can help their brothers in Cairo, but at the same time they are talking about how to stay alive. So while the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is counting its dead by the hundreds, and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them is far from over, the Hamas movement has withdrawn into itself and instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt, so that it does not upset those very people it really does not want to upset right now. Hamas spokesmen totally deny Hamas involvement in terrorist attacks conducted against Egyptian troops in Sinai. Hamas did not dare organize even a single rally in support of them. It seems that fear causes Hamas to take extra precautions – both in word and deed – so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.11

The situation in Egypt has paralyzed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and even the leader of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, who seems to have disappeared ever since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was deposed.12

There was little surprise that the Hamas leaders who have spoken out against Egypt are those based abroad and not those living in Gaza.13 As a political scientist at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University put it, “Those who live abroad don’t care as much about Gaza’s isolation, but Gaza’s rulers will pay the price for any Egyptian escalation. I think those in Gaza will be more prudent and nuanced when they speak about the new Egyptian government.”14

Hamas Losing Allies

The most important question of all remains: What future does Hamas have? For the first time in more than two decades, Hamas has no regional political allies in positions of power – a huge problem for a movement that is heavily dependent on alliances that provide financial, military, and political support. Sunni Hamas severed ties with former ally Syria last year over its crackdown on the predominantly Sunni Syrian opposition. As a result, Iran has stopped its financial aid that consisted of almost $20 million per month.15 Syria and Hamas, along with Iran and Hizbullah, formed the so-called “axis of resistance” that opposed Israel and the West. For decades, Syria embraced Hamas’ leadership and provided the Islamic movement with funds, weapons, and political support, which were used to wage war against Israel and, later, the more moderate Palestinian faction, Fatah.

Now, Hamas has turned to Turkey and Qatar to fill the void.16 However, since Egypt’s Islamist government was toppled, and following the deterioration in Turkish-Egyptian as well as Qatari-Egyptian relations, Hamas’ relationship with Turkey and Qatar has seemed to be faltering. Egypt was the critical link between Gaza and its benefactors because of its shared border.

An article in Hamas’ official daily Al-Rissalah claimed: “Indications on the ground show that Cairo…will not allow the Islamic model in Gaza to remain standing due to its ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is being marginalized from the Egyptian political scene at gunpoint….Those who follow Egyptian affairs know full well that Gaza is prone to return to its political isolation. This is the biggest fear of Palestinians living in the Strip, following a year of regional and international acceptance.”17

It would be fair to assess that Gaza’s isolation is Egypt’s ultimate goal, since such an objective would meet Egypt’s interests: to consign Gaza to oblivion and reduce Hamas to its real size.

*     *     *

Notes

1. Assaf Gibor, Maariv-nrg, 2 September 2013.
2. Elhanan Miller, “Hamas used metal darts to kill protesters during Egypt’s revolution,” Times of Israel, 30 April 2013.
3. i24news, 25 August 2013.
4. “Egyptian General: Hamas terrorizing Egyptians,” Times of Israel, 18 July 2013.
5. Avi Issacharoff, “No summer break in the violent Middle East,” Times of Israel, 23 August 2013.
6. Al-Yawm el-Sabei, Egypt, 24 August 2013.
7. Shlomi Eldar, “Has Hamas abandoned Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood?” Al-Monitor, 19 August 2013.
8. Ahmad Aldabba, “With Brotherhood’s fall in Egypt, Hamas faces harsh reality again,” Christian Science Monitor, 27 July 2013.
9. Theresa Breuer, “Closed tunnels could ruin Hamas,” Der Spiegel, 30 July 2013.
10. Ibid.
11. Shlomi Eldar, op.cit.
12. Ibid.
13. Elhanan Miller, “Cautiously Hamas speaks out against Egyptian bloodshed,” Times of Israel, 19 August 2013.
14. Ibid.
15. Theresa Breuer, op.cit.
16. Ahmad Aldabba, op.cit.
17. Elhanan Miller, op.cit.

http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/after-muslim-brotherhood-in-egypt-is.html

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/after-the-muslim-brotherhood-in-egypt-is-hamas-in-gaza-next-in-line/2013/10/04/

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