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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Southern Israel locked down

Southern Israel is locked down this evening out of fear that terrorists who have left Gaza have gone into Sinai and will attempt to penetrate into Israel along the porous border between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai.

The lockdown started Thursday night with the closure of Highway 10, which runs along the border between the southern Negev and the Sinai The map below should acquaint you with the geography of the area.
Now follow along with the map:
As a first step, IDF forces on the border with Egypt have been put on a higher alert level, and are consulting and coordinating with police and local municipalities in the south. The army has ordered Route 10 along the Israeli border with Egypt to be temporarily closed to civilian traffic due to security concerns.

In addition, the National Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Bureau urges Israelis currently in the Sinai Peninsula to return to Israel immediately. The bureau issued a warning on Thursday saying that Israelis should absolutely avoid travel to the Sinai at this time. Security officials explained that PA terrorists are planning to kidnap Israelis in Sinai and bring them to Gaza. Terrorists would find it easy to enter Egypt and return to Gaza with kidnapping victims due to the open border between Sinai and southern Gaza, they said.

To further preserve security in the south, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has ordered police to step up operations in the vicinity of the Israel-Egypt border. In the wake of the massive southward flight of PA residents, he expressed concern that terrorists could try to sneak in from the Sinai along with a group of refugees or smugglers.

While Gaza is bounded on the Israeli side by a relatively secure perimeter barrier, the border between Egypt and Israel is much more open. Security officials estimate that hundreds of people, most of them African refugees, smugglers and migrant workers, manage to cross the border illegally every month.
Last night, the IDF went a step further:
Hiking trails and tourist spots near the Israeli-Egyptian border were closed until further notice late Friday night following the infiltration of hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Sinai earlier in the evening.

The decision, which followed an earlier one to close Route 10 along the border, was made by the defense establishment in an effort to intensify security along the border with Egypt and specifically, to prevent potential terrorists from seeping into the area.

Areas closed off to the Israeli public include: Holot Agur, Be'er Milcha, Be'erotayim, Azuz, Har Harif, Borot Lutz, Nahal Akrub, Nahal Aylot, Har Ramon, Arud Path, Har Sagie, Har Karhoum, Sha'ar Tznifim, Har Eilat, Ein Netifim, Nahal Tzfahot, Nahal Shlomo, Nahal Yehoshafat, Nahal Gershon, Nahal Shani and the Red Canyon. The IDF has requested to stay clear of the closed areas.
DEBKA reports that there is real cause for concern:
This is Israel’s most extensive terror alert ever, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The big Israeli and American air and military bases in the region are on high terror alert and officers’ families are being removed to central Israel, following intelligence warnings that Hamas, Jihad Islami and al Qaeda are preparing to launch suicide operations across the porous Egyptian border from N. Sinai.

Israeli military forces have spread out across the southern region, checkpoints set up on the highways, lookout positions posted, and helicopters and drones are on constant surveillance.

DEBKAfile’s sources in the south report that Eilat, Israel’s southernmost town and Red Sea port, is not entirely cut off; the eastern Highway 90 is open to traffic [Highway 90 runs along the eastern border, the Dead Sea and all the way to the north eventually, although you now have to take a bypass to go around Jericho. Unfortunately, much of the highway has only one lane in each direction. CiJ] although Highway 10 which follows the Egyptian Sinai frontier is closed.

So too are 221 and 222 and parts of Routes 40 and 12. Israeli units have been deployed to block off to terrorist access the southern towns of Eilat, Mitzpeh Ramon, Kfar Yeruham, Beersheba, Arad and the villages and military installations located in the Negev and Aravah regions. Popular tourist nature reserves and beauty spots are closed.

The latest intelligence input speaks of an ingathering in Sinai of al Qaeda cells from Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. They are heading for the Egyptian-Israel frontier, which Egyptian border forces have abandoned to focus on the anarchy on the Gaza-Egyptian border Hamas generated by knocking down the border wall. One-third of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants has flooded into N. Sinai in a disorderly exodus.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources disclose another ominous symptom: Al Qaeda has appointed an “emir” for the Gaza Strip, the customary military commander assigned when the jihadist group goes into operational mode.
But Shimon Peres always says that having land is irrelevant in war in the 21st century, eh Shimon?


At 3:23 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hosni Mubarak finds Hamas jihadstan doubled in size with a new capital: El Arish. Its highly unlikely the Egyptians either have the means or the will to regain their lost sovereignty in northern Sinai. Egypt has effectively lost the ability to keep the Palestinians bottled up in a narrow strip and continue to re-direct their hatred towards Israel. Its like a giant stopped up valve exploded.

Now the whole mess is on Mubarak's doorstep and last thing Israel should do is take it off his hands.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incident #1:

20 armed Gazans caught in Sinai


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