Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hamas Takes Over Egyptian Sea Port

David Bedein
The Bulletin

Jerusalem - It is hard to think of a precedent in the history of warfare when an army used hordes of civilians as a cover for the conquest of a seaport.

Indeed, what most observers of the Middle East have missed is that the Hamas army has conquered and taken control of the Egyptian sea port of Rafah in a matter of days, under the cover of tens of thousands of men, women and children flooding Egypt under the pretext of a "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. As thousands of Gazan families spilled over into Egypt, the Hamas military seized Egypt's strategic deep water port of Rafah on the Gaza Mediterranean coast, using an American arsenal of light weaponry that was seized from the Fatah Palestinian Authority security services last June.

To complement that startling feat, the Hamas forces may pull off the same conquest of the El Arish deep water port on Egypt's Mediterranean coast within a matter of days.

How did all this come about?

Before dawn on Wednesday, armed Palestinians blew up the wall between Gazan Rafah and Egyptian Rafah at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip.

As if on signal, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians thronged across the border into Egypt in hope of fleeing the economic siege that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians failed to stem the tide and were forced to open the border.

Israeli security officials were not surprised by the development, saying it had only been a matter of time. "By virtue of the very fact of allowing Palestinians entry into Egypt, the Egyptian authorities cut the ribbon on the decision to sever Gaza from Israel," said a security official on Wednesday. "Now the Egyptians need to shoulder responsibility for the Gaza Strip in terms of humanitarian aid. The Hamas government will be forced to rely on Egyptian infrastructure to supply food and fuel to the citizens. They can't claim that Israel is holding them under siege."

Sources in the Israeli security establishment believe that 100,000 Palestinians crossed the border into Egypt, including terror cells who will now try to return to Gaza and penetrate Israel via its long border with Egypt in the Negev.

Egypt Was Tipped Off Before Hamas Blew Up The Wall

A few hours before the steel wall along the border with Egypt was blown up Thursday, a Palestinian security official placed a phone call to his Egyptian counterparts. He provided them - for the second time within a week - with a tip about Hamas' decision to blow up the wall. Hamas activists had prepared for the explosion for months, using a special chemical mixture that they concocted to melt the steel, reported the Times of London.

The intelligence warning the Egyptians were given was relayed while Hamas activists were busy laying the bombs. The Egyptian intelligence officials thanked the Palestinian officer and promised him that they would prepare accordingly, sources say.

One of the Palestinian border guards, Lt. Abu-Osama from the Palestinian National Security Service, said that the wall collapsed within a moment, after it was bombed in 17 different locations. "I saw them preparing for the moment of the explosion for months," said Lt. Abu-Osama. "It happened in the course of the day but it was concealed so that no one would see." When he was asked why he didn't report that, Lt. Abu-Osama replied: "It was the government that did that. Who was I going to report it to?"

Media Victory For Hamas

Zvi Mazel, who was Israel's ambassador to Egypt, said, "Hamas has scored a victory under the auspices of the media. The breaching of the siege was planned and executed like a military operation, while making optimal use of the media."

Mr. Mazel went on to say Hamas took care to distribute "candle pictures" from Gaza: ranging from children bearing candles in the Gazan darkness to a cabinet meeting held by candlelight. Afterward, Mr. Mazel commented, "Hamas dispatched its women's organization to break through the Rafah crossing and documented the Egyptian security forces opening fire .... Mubarak had no choice but to go on television and announce that he had ordered the crossing to be opened to the hungry residents of Gaza - a media victory for Hamas."

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

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