´Egypt moves to seal off Gaza smuggling tunnels´ (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS 08/08/12)
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Egypt began work to seal off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip on
Tuesday, a security source said, amidst an uptick in public
discussions by Israeli leaders over Egypt´s willingness and
capability of policing the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.
The move came two days after gunmen shot dead 16 Egyptian border
guards in an attack blamed partly on Palestinian Islamists.
A Reuters reporter in the border town of Rafah said heavy equipment
was brought to the area near the tunnels, which are used to smuggle
people to and from Gaza but also food and fuel that are a lifeline
for the territory´s population.
"The campaign aims at closing all the openings between Egypt and the
Gaza Strip that are used in smuggling operations," said the security
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday that Egypt has
enough forces to deal with terrorism in Sinai, responding to
suggestions that Israel will consider any Egyptian request to deploy
additional military forces in the Sinai.
"There are enough forces in Sinai, it´s now just a matter of making a
decision," he said.
The IDF said the perpetrators of Sunday´s attack were part of a
global jihad terrorist infrastructure operating inside the Sinai that
was made up mostly of local Beduin.
During the attack, some 35 armed men stormed an Egyptian military
base, killing 16 policemen and soldiers. On Monday, Egypt branded the
attackers “infidels” and vowed to launch a crackdown throughout the
Until now, Israel has permitted the Egyptians to deploy about seven
battalions in the Sinai, although under the peace treaty the
peninsula is meant to remain demilitarized.
The conclusion Jerusalem hopes the Egyptians will draw is that they
will act more forcefully to stamp out the global jihadi terrorism
that is growing there, threatening both Israel and Egypt.
“Perhaps this will be a necessary wake-up call for the Egyptians to
take matters in their hands in a more serious way,” Defense Minister
Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on
The Hamas government had condemned the attack as an “awful crime” and
promised to help Egypt find the culprits, but also denied Gaza
militants were involved.
“We reject using the name of Gaza (in the context of the attack)
without investigation and without finding out who is standing behind
it,” said Hamas Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Awad.
Meanwhile, protesters heckled Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil
on Tuesday at the funeral of the 16 soldiers killed. The funeral was
disrupted by hecklers who chanted against Egypt´s new Islamist
leaders, who may yet face a backlash against their plans to relax
restrictions on Gaza border crossings.
"The Brotherhood and Hamas are one dirty hand," chanted some of the
According to Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Yom, vandals smashed Kandal´s
vehicle and pelted him with shoes.
Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 08/08/12)
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