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Friday, October 14, 2011

Egypt intercepts surface-to-air missiles heading from Libya to Gaza

Egypt has intercepted large caches of surface-to-air missiles that were on their way from Libya to Gaza, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Egyptian security officials have intercepted surface-to-air missiles, most of them shoulder-launched, on the road to Sinai and in the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip since Moammar Gaddafi fell from power in Libya in August, a military official in Cairo said. Arms traders said the weapons available on Sinai’s clandestine market include rockets and antiaircraft guns.

The seizures raise fresh concerns about security along the sensitive area that borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, at a time when unrest is roiling the region. The addition of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to arsenals of Palestinian fighters in Gaza could add significantly to the threat against Israel, whose helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft frequently patrol the strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas.

“We don’t want to see Egypt as a pathway to smuggle weapons,” said Sameh Seif el-Yazal, a retired Egyptian general in military intelligence who said several surface-to-air missiles have been intercepted on the desert road from Libya to the Egyptian city of Alexandria and north on to Gaza. “We believe some Palestinian groups made a deal with Libyans to get special weapons such as shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.”
On Thursday, Egypt dispatched planes to patrol its border with Israel, in violation of the 1979 Camp David treaty.
"Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land," General Reda Hafiz told the official MENA news agency.

"Egyptian planes conduct patrols to secure all Egypt's borders, including the eastern border," he said.

Parts of Sinai have been restricted to Egyptian troops under the terms of the 1979 treaty, by which Israel agreed to withdraw from the territory. In recent months, however, the Egyptian army has deployed reinforcements with Israeli consent to tackle suspected Islamist militants.
For now, at least, Egypt is apparently using the planes to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza (or are they?) and Israel is not complaining despite the violations of the treaty. What could go wrong?

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At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, I remember when you warned about this a few months back, that allowing Egypt to increase troop strength in the Sinai that it would lead to exactly the escalation we are seeing.


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