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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘smuggling tunnels’

Today the Brotherhood, Tomorrow Hamas

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt’s military rulers are going after Hamas in the Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters on Tuesday. Now they go about toppling Hamas, which took over in Gaza in 2007.

Last month, Egypt’s public prosecutor accused Hamas of conspiring with the Brotherhood and Iran to launch terrorist attacks in Egypt.

“We know Hamas is the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood are terrorists and no country could develop with terrorists in or around it,” the security official said.

Wait – is anybody writing this down? Someone should tell Bibi that the Egyptians have finished reading his book and are now busy applying his ideas. The good ones, before he turned his back on them.

Since rising to power in a military coup in the summer, the Egyptian junta has been laboring to undermine Gaza’s economy by destroying the bulk of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons. In that area, too, Egypt has been a lot more heavy handed than the IDF. Essentially, using a team of bulldozers, the Egyptian army, over a period of ten days or so, razed everything that stood up alongside the Gaza border up to where the Israeli border begins. They created a broad no man’s land over the caved in tunnels, making passage into their side a life threatening proposition.

Egypt’s Junta has cracked down hard on the Brotherhood, to the point where nowadays almost its entire leadership and thousands of its rank and file members are behind bars.

And so, today, while Egyptians continue to vote on the first day of polling in the constitution referendum – their junta’s first electoral test since Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July; and while as many as nine Egyptians have already been killed in local clashes, the new Pharaohs are setting their sights on another target.

“Gaza is next,” one senior security official told Reuters. “We cannot get liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza, which lies on our borders.”

It looks like Hamas will be facing growing resistance and street protests, much like those that took down two consecutive regimes in Egypt (until the junta got it right). The rulers of Cairo will be financing and supplying these protests, until Hamas cries uncle and takes a boat ride to Turkey.

Assuming they’ll still have friends up there by that time.

Egypt does view Hamas as an existential problem, seeing as the terrorist government has been supporting al Qaeda-inspired gangs that attack security forces in the Sinai peninsula. According to Reuters, those attacks have longs since crossed the Suez Canal and spread to Egypt’s large cities.

A Hamas official said the comments made to Reuters by Egyptian officials “showed Cairo was inciting violence and trying to provoke chaos.”

Yes, I admit, some news items are more fun to write than others. This one – top ten.

The Hamas forces are estimated at 40,000 soldiers, police and security forces. They rule over a population of 1.8 million people, if any of those numbers can be trusted.

“We know that Hamas is powerful and armed but we also know that there are other armed groups in Gaza that are not on good terms with Hamas and they could be used to face Hamas,” another Egyptian security source told Reuters. “All people want is to eat, drink and have a decent living, and if a government, armed or not, fails to provide that, then the people will rise against it in the end.”

And, naturally, the more people starve, the easier it will become to lure them out into the streets, at which point the Hamas thugs will crack down on them, cameras will snap, mayhem will erupt, until something will give.

Closed Tunnels Cost Hamas $230 Million a Month

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Egypt’s closure of smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula is costing Hamas $230 million in lost revenue a month, a senior official in the terrorist organization said.

The “closure of the tunnels caused heavy losses to the industry, commerce, agriculture, transport and construction sectors of around $230 million monthly,” said Hatem Oweida, Hamas’ deputy economic minister, AFP reported.

Since taking control of Gaza in 2007, Hamas has used the smuggling tunnels to transfer economic goods, as well as weapons and rockets, into the territory. Hamas also generates a lot of revenue by taxing goods that pass through the tunnels.

However, Egypt’s military backed government has accused Hamas of supporting terrorists in the Sinai and has launched a campaign to destroy the tunnels. Last month, Egypt said it shut down more than 130 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Israel recently uncovered a massive tunnel stretching from southern Gaza to Israel’s Eshkol region. Israel fears that other tunnels could exist and be used to kidnap soldiers or carry out terrorist attacks inside of Israel.

IDF Discovers Gaza Tunnel Loaded with Explosives

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The IDF has discovered a smuggling tunnel loaded with explosives in central Gaza, one day after the military exposed a tunnel that that had been dug to a kibbutz.

Outgoing IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordecai said that soldiers will explode the central Gaza tunnel.

The government and military policy generally has been to bomb terrorists’ tunnels only as a retaliatory measure after rocket and mortar  attacks on Israelis.

The Defense Ministry never has explained why it does not order the IDF to destroy the tunnel without waiting for terrorist attacks.

Fatah Wants Egypt to Overthrow Hamas

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

As the Egyptian army continues to demolish houses and smuggling tunnels, Fatah leaders in the West Bank are hoping that they will soon be able to return to the Gaza Strip.

At one time, Fatah leaders had hopes that Israel would overthrow Hamas through military force. Now, they are hoping that the new rulers of Egypt will do the job.

Beleaguered Hamas officials claim that the Palestinian Tamarod group is operated and trained by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service and Fatah, with the goal of toppling their regime in the Gaza Strip. Hamas security forces have detained several Palestinian activists and journalists as part of an effort to crush the new group.

Seven years after they were expelled by Hamas, the Fatah leaders have good reason to be optimistic regarding their chances of regaining control over the Gaza Strip.

A top Fatah leader this week went so far as declaring that he and his friends would not mind returning to the Gaza Strip “aboard an Egyptian tank.”

The ouster of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent Egyptian security crackdown on terror groups in Sinai, as well as the tightening of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, have hurt Hamas so badly that its leaders feel they are in a state of war with the largest Arab country.

Morsi’s election as president seemed to end Fatah’s dream of returning to the Gaza Strip. While he was in power, Morsi did everything he could to bolster Hamas’s standing and assist it in tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh were invited, for the first time ever, to meetings in the Egyptian presidential palace, much to the dismay of Fatah leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas.

Morsi also eased travel restrictions along the border with the Gaza Strip, allowing Hamas leaders and members to move freely into Sinai and other Egyptian cities. Morsi also granted Egyptian citizenship to thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, including some top Hamas officials — a move that further infuriated Fatah.

But now that relations between Hamas and Egypt appear to have hit a new low, Fatah representatives believe that the countdown for the downfall of the Islamist movement has begun.

Not surprisingly, some Hamas officials are talking about a “conspiracy” to bring Fatah back to the Gaza Strip. They are convinced that the new rulers of Egypt, who despise Hamas for being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, are working toward undermining the movement’s regime in the Gaza Strip to facilitate Fatah’s return.

“The Egyptians are strangling the Gaza Strip,” complained Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “They are punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip by denying them medicine, food and fuel.”

The new Egyptian regime considers Hamas a threat to Egypt’s national security — the reason authorities in Cairo have refrained since the ouster of Morsi from establishing any contact with Hamas representatives.

Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy arrived in Ramallah for talks with Abbas on the security situation along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

During the visit, Palestinian sources said, Fahmy made it clear that Egypt would like to see Abbas’s forces return to the Rafah border crossing. Hamas expelled Abbas’s forces from the border crossing in the summer of 2007.

Since the ouster of Morsi, the Egyptians have imposed severe restrictions at the border crossing, allowing through only a few dozen Palestinians every day.

The Egyptian minister’s visit to Ramallah is seen in the context of Cairo’s efforts to undermine Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip.

Following the visit, these sources said, Abbas expressed deep satisfaction with Egypt’s tough policy against Hamas. Later, Abbas told Fatah leaders that Hamas was acting against Egypt’s national security by sending its militiamen to Sinai and other parts of Egypt.

Fatah representatives are also encouraged by the emergence of an anti-Hamas group called Tamarod [rebellion]. Over the past two weeks, Tamarod has issued five statements pledging to fight against Hamas’s “repressive and suppressive” regime. Inspired by the anti-Morsi Tamarod movement in Egypt, the group has called for a series of protests, as of November 11, against Hamas

Fatah alone would never be able to return to the Gaza Strip. Unlike Egypt, Fatah does not have an army that would come to the rescue and remove Hamas from power.

Egyptian Army Blocked Hamas Attacks in the Sinai

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The Kuwaiti paper Al Rai is quoting senior Egyptian military sources claiming that Egyptian forces have stopped a terror attack by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, against Army facilities in Sinai.

According to the report, a 15-man terror cell attacked soldiers in an attempt to release jailed members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group entered Egyptian territory through the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to the Sinai.

Egypt Crushes Hamas, Plans All-Out War on Sinai Terrorists

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The Egyptian military has demolished hundreds of smuggling tunnels from Hamas-controlled Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula and is preparing for an all-out onslaught against Hamas, Al Qaeda and other terrorists in the Sinai, Egyptian media reported Sunday.

The Egyptian offensive is a political and military shock to Hamas, with reverberations in Ramallah and Washington, on the eve of yet another attempt by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to re-ignite the “peace process.”

“The reduction in smuggling will make it difficult for Hamas to maintain the level of its revenues, and therefore it will be hard pressed to contain the protests against its rule,” according to the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS). “It will also be difficult to infiltrate weapons into Gaza, mainly enhanced rockets and surface-to-surface missiles.”

The Egyptian Aswat Masriya media outlet reported that 805 tunnels along the smuggling route, centered in the border city of Rafiah, were destroyed.  It said that most of the tunnels have been used to smuggle fuel into Gaza.

The Egyptian army will also close the Rafiah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip “indefinitely,” an official source told Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. It closed the Rafiah crossing and placed a severe siege on Hamas on Friday but without a peep from the international community, which still condemns Israel for the maritime embargo that is aimed at preventing the import of terrorists and weapons from the sea.

Terrorists in Rafiah targeted a military checkpoint Saturday, but no casualties were reported, and Egypt opened the Rafiah border crossing for four hours Saturday to allow humanitarian cases to cross the border.

The tunnels have been a key route for terrorists to travel freely back and forth to the Sinai Peninsula and establish terrorist outposts aimed at staking out bases for attack on Egyptian tourist areas, such as El Arish, as well as urban areas.

The army killed at least five terrorists on Friday, but Egyptian media reported a larger-scale offensive is in the works after an attempted assassination of Second Field Army commander Maj. Gen. Ahmed Wasfy on Wednesday. Egypt is using heavy arms and warplanes, maneuvers that are prohibited under the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty of 1979 without Israel’s approval.

With the unstable and radical anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood out of power, thanks to the military “impeachment” or coup – take your pick – Israel is not blocking any offense,

“Security sources confirmed that Israel does not mind that the Egyptian forces use heavy artillery and warplanes during the operation which is expected to start very soon” military sources confirmed to the official television on Saturday.

Official added, “The army had decided to cleanse the Sinai of armed gangs and terrorists “The operation will continue until it reaches its objectives, which are not only military but also aim to develop the Sinai.”

The Egyptian Air Force on Saturday sent in two Apache helicopters to gun down jihadists after it received intelligence information that they were hiding in olive groves and preparing to attack military checkpoints.

On Friday, an Egyptian helicopter was seen in the skies over Gaza for the first time since the Six-Day War in 1967.

The Hamas terrorist organization is an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore is a natural enemy of the military that ousted Mohammed Morsi two weeks ago. Hamas has denied Egyptian military claims that its soldiers jailed 32 Hamas terrorists and arrested dozens others in the Sinai Peninsula last week.

Hamas figuratively shot itself in the head last August when it mounted a severe attack on the Egyptian army, killing 16 soldiers near Rafiah in a multi-pronged attack that was intended to continue into Israel but was foiled at the last minute by the IDF.

Ever since, Hamas has been an undeclared enemy of Egypt, and even the Morsi regime was suspicious of it.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority also is benefiting from Hamas’ miseries but is suppressing its joy because Hamas has widespread support among Arabs in Judea and Samaria who are fed up with chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Any moves by the Secretary of State Kerry to win some kind of a forum between Israeli and Palestinian Authority are a useless exercise without the inclusion of Gaza.

Another fallout of the offensive against Hamas might be negative for Israel in the near-term.

Report: Egypt in Undeclared War on Hamas, Kills 30, Arrests 200

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Egypt’s de facto interim military regime has attacked Hamas terrorists in the Sinai, killing more than 30 and placing approximately 200 others under arrest, according to the often reliable London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper

It quoted an Egyptian security official as admitting that the military is far from controlling the virtual anarchy that has reigned in the Sinai since the beginning of the revolutionary movement against the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Even though the Muslim Brotherhood founded the Hamas movement as an offspring, the ousted government of Mohammed Morsi was wary of Hamas, which is rivaled by other Islamic terrorist groups who are dead-set on creating chaos in Egypt as well as in Israel.

Dozens of terrorists from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, incensed by the military ouster of Morsi and the subsequent massacre of dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supports,  have joined Hamas terrorists in the Sinai.

“They enter Sinai through the tunnels to carry out attacks, along with others, and then return to Gaza through the tunnels. They take advantage of the surface and hide in the mountains,” he was quoted as saying.

Terrorist in the Sinai have frequently attacked Egyptian soldiers, killing more than dozen in one onslaught and kidnapping seven others as recently as last May.

The ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood is, so far, the best of both worlds for Israel. Still hated by most Egyptian leaders as well as the people, Israel can rely on a more stable government, democratically elected or not, than the Morsi regime that was running the country into the ground and creating a fertile ground for terrorists to exploit a vacuum of political strength.

Israel now has an undeclared ally against Hamas and is allowing Cairo to deploy heavy arms in the Sinai, a move which requires Israel approval as outlined in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979.

TIME quoted Washington Institute for Near East Policy David Makovsky on Thursday as saying, “Israel sees the Egyptian military as a pro-peace lobby inside the Egyptian political system.”

There is one big and dirty fly in the ointment for Israel. What would happen if Hamas were to collapse in Gaza and Fatah, headed by chairman Mahmoud Abbas, were to rule as it did before the Hamas coup in 2007?

The division of Judea and Samaria from Gaza , both politically and geographically, makes a Palestinian Authority country virtually impossible. If Abbas were to regain popularity there,  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union would have the ammunition to load up the guns of the “peace process” again.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/report-egypt-in-undeclared-war-on-hamas-kills-30-arrests-200/2013/07/11/

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