Egypt allows weapons to rush into Gaza

Gunmen blast border wall, 350,000 Palestinians flood Arab neighbor

Posted: January 23, 2008
10:56 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2008

TEL AVIV – Egyptian security forces did not interfere as massive quantities of weapons were transported across the Egyptian border into the Gaza Strip when masked gunmen today blew dozens of holes in the wall delineating the frontier, according to Palestinian militant sources at the scene speaking to WND.

“Very good things came in (to Gaza),” said a senior leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza-based, Hamas-allied terrorist group. The leader spoke on condition his name be withheld

“Egyptian security men at the border were very passive – they wanted this to happen; they didn’t prevent anything from coming in or going out,” said the terrorist, who was speaking from the Gaza side of the border.

Some 350,000 Palestinians reportedly poured out of Gaza and into Egypt today after masked men detonated 17 bombs, destroying some two-thirds of a wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Hamas did not take direct responsibility for the blasts, but Hamas sources speaking to WND said their group, together with the Popular Resistance Committees, coordinated the assault.

Witnesses at the scene said Hamas police officers were directing swarms of Palestinians through two sections of the knocked-down border and that Egyptian guards did not interfere as the Palestinians made their way into the Sinai desert.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced today he had ordered his troops to allow Palestinians to cross into Egypt from Gaza because they were “starving” from an Israeli “siege” placed on Gaza.

“I told them to let them come in and eat and buy food and then return them later as long as they were not carrying weapons,” said Mubarak.

According to terrorist sources, large quantities of weapons were openly transported from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, and many Palestinians, including known militants, crossed back and forth between the borders a handful of times unimpeded by Egyptian guards.

Response to rocket attacks

The crisis began last week when Palestinian terrorists fired over 200 rockets from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish communities. Rockets have been regularly flying from the territory since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but last week’s increased bombardment marked an escalation that prompted widespread calls here for the Israeli government to carry out a large-scale anti-rocket operation and ground assault in Gaza.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government instead decided to cut back fuel supplies and shipment trucks entering Gaza from the Israeli border in an effort to pressure Gaza’s Hamas leadership. But Israeli officials say they continue to transfer sufficient aid and materials to the Palestinians to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and allow Gaza’s power plants to run.

Still, on Sunday, Hamas unilaterally decided to shut down Gaza’s only electrical plant, which supplies power to about 20 percent of Gaza, including over 400,000 people in Gaza City.

Hamas claimed it did not have enough fuel to run the plant due to Israeli cutbacks, a contention strongly contested by Israel.

Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel’s Defense Ministry, said Gaza has enough fuel to run its power plants and accused Palestinian officials of trying to create the impression of a crisis that did not exist.

Dror pointed out that while Israel cut back some fuel shipments, which he said would mostly affect drivers, the Jewish state continues to supply Gaza directly with two-thirds of its electricity.

The power stations that supply most of Gaza’s electricity are located in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, into which Palestinian terrorists have been launching rockets at a furious rate the past few days.

“It is crazy the Palestinians are firing rockets at the stations that fuel Gaza,” commented Olmert earlier this week.

Israel yesterday allowed some supplies to enter Gaza but announced a partial blockade until Palestinian rocket attacks slow down. Security sources said enough materials were trucked in to avert any humanitarian crisis, in spite of Palestinian claims the people in Gaza are starving.

Israeli officials strongly disputed widespread media reports this week stating Palestinians in Gaza were in a major crisis.

One BBC report, for example, claimed due to the Israeli blockage, Palestinians ran out of burial shrouds and have resorted to draping their dead in old flags. But neither Israel nor any humanitarian agency, including the United Nations, has ever shipped burial shrouds to Gaza, meaning the Israeli blockage could not have created any shortage.

The White House yesterday defended Israel’s partial siege in Gaza.

Israel is in the “untenable position” of having to react to Palestinian rockets, State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters in Washington. “Obviously they’ve said that they’re going to take humanitarian considerations into account,” he said. “We hold them to that. I understand that they will.”

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