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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

All is not quiet on tunnel-smuggling front

Egyptian forces last week uncovered two weapons-smuggling tunnels in Egyptian Rafah, used to move weapons from Sinai into Gaza, and blew them up. Israeli defense sources concede that there has been some improvement in the Egyptian efforts to halt the smuggling of weapons, against the background of Cairo's promises to Jerusalem to fight the smuggling ahead of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza. But the change on the Egyptian side is still limited and has not brought an end to the smuggling.
In the last two weeks, despite Egyptian moves and very intensive Israel Defense Forces activity on the Palestinian side of the border, at least two deliveries of smuggled weapons reached Hamas in Rafah, raising concern that Egypt might not be truly interested in ending the smuggling and is weapons-running as a valve for raising and lowering tension. In other words, as long as the smuggling is within control and does not include any weapons that could change the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians such as shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles or long-range Katyusha rockets, the Egyptians have no objection to the continued smuggling.

Apparently, the smuggling networks have contacts in Egyptian intelligence, which uses them to collect information about what happens on the Israeli side of the border between Sinai and the western Negev."