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  • February 18, 2013

    Aide: Egypt flooded tunnels to cut Gaza arms flow



    ‘We don’t want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security.’ National security adviser to Morsi says, adding that president will respect peace treaty with Israel

    Egypt will not tolerate a two-way flow of smuggled arms with the Gaza Strip that is destabilizing its Sinai peninsula, a senior aide to its Islamist president said, explaining why Egyptian forces flooded sub-border tunnels last week.

    The network of tunnels has been a lifeline for some 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, bringing in an estimated 30% of all goods that reach the enclave and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years.

    But Essam Haddad, national security adviser to President Mohamed Morsi told Reuters in an interview: “We don’t want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security.” He said that under a deal brokered by Cairo to end fighting in November between Israel and the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, the Israeli stranglehold on the coastal territory had been considerably relaxed. Egypt has eased border controls to allow in construction materials, notably from Qatar.

    “Now we can say that the borders are open to a good extent – it could still be improved – and the needs of the Gazan people are allowed in. Building materials are allowed in for the first time,” Haddad said.

    “And on the other side, we would not like to see arms smuggled through these tunnels either in or out, because we are now seeing in Sinai and we have captured actually across Egypt heavy arms that could be used in a very dangerous way.”

    Sixteen Egyptian border guards were killed last August in a terrorist attack in Sinai near the Gaza fence that shocked Egyptians and highlighted lawlessness in the desert region adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip.

    Cairo said some of those gunmen had crossed into Egypt via the Gaza tunnels – an accusation denied by the Palestinians. Dozens of tunnels have been destroyed since that incident.

    Last Friday, Egypt said it had seized two tons of explosives hidden in a truck carrying a shipment of fruit and vegetables bound for Sinai. In January, Egypt seized six anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets in the peninsula that smugglers may have intended to send to Gaza.

    Despite the flooding of the tunnels, which sparked bitter complaints from Palestinians, Haddad said relations with Hamas, ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood movement now ruling in Cairo, were good.

    Egypt has been trying, so far without success, to coax Hamas and the Fatah nationalist movement that runs the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank to agree on a national unity government and elections.

    But Haddad made clear that President Mohamed Morsi would scrupulously respect Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and that daily cooperation with the Jewish state continued as normal, even though there were no contacts at a presidential level.

    An Israeli security delegation visited Cairo for talks last week and two Israeli warships passed through the Suez Canal, one flying the Star of David flag for the first time in years.

    Asked whether he saw a threat to Egyptian security from al-Qaeda Islamist terrorists, Haddad said a structured al-Qaeda network with its connections and operations did not exist in Egypt. But its extremist ideology knew no borders.

    “Everybody has noticed that since the collapse of (former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi’s army, the amount of weapons smuggling across the whole region has really increased dramatically,” he said.

    “This is something that is really alarming because you don’t know who will be getting these arms. And when you see there are anti-aircraft missiles inside Egypt and anti-tank weapons inside Egypt … you will question who is doing this and why.

    “That is why we want to strengthen our western border,” Haddad said, adding that this was the government’s top security priority now.

    Egyptian security authorities are still investigating whether a terror cell arrested in Cairo this month had links to an al-Qaeda network.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 8:53 pm | 20 Comments »

    20 Comments to Aide: Egypt flooded tunnels to cut Gaza arms flow

    1. NormanF says:

      The Egyptians are acting this way not because they love Israel but because Hamas is a loose cannon and Cairo wants to tame its Islamist ally.

      Hamas is seething but can do nothing about it and its hands are tied.

    2. yamit82 says:

      I don’t believe the Egyptians, all reports I have read says that Hamas has increased and mostly resupplied all of the missiles and ammo they expended in Nov. I think Egypt puts out these claims in hopes of securing foreign funding and loans for their bankrupt basket case of a country.

      Egypt is approaching a point where they won’t be able to feed their burgeoning population. Major riots are a daily occurance and Hamas is being taken care off much better than Egypt because of Iran and Turkey.

      Hamas has become one of Israels best customers and trading partner.

    3. yamit82 says:

      My comments have disappeared????

    4. scottdnok says:

      I find Yamit’s commentary a highlight of this blog. please post his comments.

    5. yamit82 says:

      scottdnok Said:

      I find Yamit’s commentary a highlight of this blog. please post his comments.

      I like you too! ;)

      Post more often, we both go way back on this blog.

    6. Honey Bee says:

      @ yamit82:

      Soy celosa

    7. Bernard Ross says:

      He said that under a deal brokered by Cairo to end fighting in November between Israel and the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, the Israeli stranglehold on the coastal territory had been considerably relaxed. Egypt has eased border controls to allow in construction materials, notably from Qatar.

      Qatar had requested of Israel to make a massive investment in Gaza. I assume that this will be related also to the development of the offshore Gaza fields. Money cannot be made in a state of hostility with Israel and investments would be very unstable.
      What have we seen:
      a war which never consummated but resulted in targeted assassinations of those in Gaza related to Iran and Syria; an apparent end of hostilities in exchange for more open borders; a strengthenning of the egyptian gaza relationship; a falling out of hamas and syria; a bid by Meshaal for presidency of PLO; Qatar and Jordan were the first to visit Abbas after “statehood”; US Bhenghazi affair alleging US arms to syrian rebels; Saudi & Qatari mercenaires in Syria deposing Assad and already fighting Hezbullah in Lebanon; The deposing of 3-4 nationalist secular leaders in arab countries accompanied by increased MB political influence; Seems like the unfolding of a private agreement to me. From Israel POV a sunni hezbullah war in lebanon would be nice. what is Israels price: temporary borders of a state or autonomous zone(as already exists) in A & B. C will remain for negotiations possibly leading to confed with Jordan, which would bypass some issues of negotiation..

    8. When he learns to control personal attacks.

      @ scottdnok:

    9. Honey Bee says:

      @ David Sternlight:

      But Darlin, I love you********************Don’ that count somewhat?

    10. One wonders whether the Egyptian tunnel flooding had anything to do with US pressure. One side effect is that Hamas will no longer be able to tax smuggled imports.

    11. A corollary to the above is that severe economic pressure might force Hamas to negotiate in earnest.
      @ David Sternlight:

    12. Honey Bee says:

      @ David Sternlight

      David Sugar, do you beiieve in the “Tooth Fairy” also. The only event that bring Hamas to negocaite seriously is MILITARY VICTORY.

    13. You don’t suppose Obama will try to score big by bringing Pollard with him?
      @ Honey Bee:

    14. Bernard Ross says:

      David Sternlight Said:

      severe economic pressure might force Hamas to negotiate in earnest.

      I doubt that there is any importance to being earnest in such deals and I think the deal has already bee negotiated and is being implemented.

    15. Honey Bee says:

      @ David Sternlight:

      That would be the perfect move,but then Obama is an arabist.

    16. Honey Bee says:

      @ Bernard Ross:

      I would love for C’boy to play poker with you.

    17. Bernard Ross says:

      HB, the spam bot is making my reply to your #16 comment disappear each time I try. My reply was Why? :)

    18. Honey Bee says:

      @ Bernard Ross:

      Because in my present state, the unseen powers of Angels are protecting me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    19. Bernard Ross says:

      @ Ted, something is still seriously wrong with your spam bot which disappeared a one word comment plus a smiley face when using a link to HB comment #16. What is causing this?

    20. Bernard Ross says:

      Ted, all my comments are disappearing, what gives? just tried again to answer HB comment 18 directly and indirectly and both disappeared.

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