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Monday, February 18, 2008

Egypt discovers another 100 kg of TNT

A drop in the bucket, but better than nothing....
Egyptian security forces on Monday uncovered an explosives cache containing 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds) of TNT hidden in sacks near the country's volatile border with the Gaza Strip, a police officer said.

The cache, found buried a few feet deep in the soil in a deserted area of the northern Sinai peninsula, came after police acted on a tip from local Bedouins, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

The find took place near Sheik Zuwiyed town, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

The Bedouins led the authorities to the location of the explosives. A total of three sacks of TNT were found, the official said.

Smuggling across the border into Gaza or Israel has long provided a livelihood for some Bedouin. Weapons, cigarettes and foreigners seeking jobs in Israel are all taken surreptitiously across the border.

Last week Egypt discovered 250 kg of TNT, and two weeks ago arrested a Palestinian Arab with an unknown quantity of TNT as well.

Of course, Gaza is awash in TNT. A recent Der Speigel article interviews a Qassam rocket maker as he says that they have enough material to keep producing rockets for years:
The team can make up to 100 rockets per night shift, but today it won't be more than 10. Instead of the usual 12, only three of Abdul's men have turned up tonight. "The other guys are over in Egypt, shopping," he says, adding that the militants are just ordinary people who want to experience the open border with the neighboring country. Will they be looking for ingredients for building the Qassams? "Hardly," the oldest of the group laughs. "They are buying potato chips. We have enough raw materials to last for a few years."

The presence of smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border have ensured that there is never a lack of supplies. "The TNT comes to us from Sudan via Egypt." Other elements arrive by boat across the sea to Gaza. "We get some from Eastern Europe." The raw materials for one large rocket cost up to €500. The money to finance the operation comes the same route as the materials.