Monday, August 27, 2007

'Egypt's failure to prevent arms flow equates to supporting Hamas'

Egypt's failure to prevent the smuggling of weapons from the Sinai Peninsula into the Gaza Strip is a message that the country wants Hamas to succeed, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told Army Radio on Monday. "Any rational person - Israel or Palestinian - who witnesses the Egyptians' failure to act against arms smuggling can see that it is in their interest to strengthen Hamas."

The deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) told the cabinet on Sunday that 40 tons of explosives had been smuggled into Gaza since Hamas seized control in June. 13 of the 40 tons were smuggled since the beginning of August.

Dichter claimed that although Egypt had the capability to prevent the continued smuggling of weapons, it had not done so for seven years. "I assess the steps taken by the Egyptians as well as their available [intelligence] in the same way that I assess Israel's abilities....It is obvious that the Egyptians can make a more meaningful effort to put an end to this."

Sources close to the prime minister cited a halt to Egyptian operations aimed at thwarting the flow of illegal weapons into the Strip as the reason for its increase.

Security officials have also said that Cairo has failed to fulfill its end of an agreement signed two years ago, according to which Egypt was responsible for the smuggling of weapons from its side of the Rafah border.

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