Israeli military intelligence: Egypt backing Palestinian terror

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

TEL AVIV Israel's military has determined that Egypt seeks to weaken Israel through attacks by Palestinian insurgency groups.

Israeli military sources said the assessment was contained in Military Intelligence reports relayed to the General Staff and the Cabinet over the last two months. The sources said MI has determined that Egypt has facilitated the smuggling of weapons and insurgents from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip for attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The MI assessment comes amid Israel's effort to launch security cooperation with Egypt. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Al Gheit and intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman were scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, Middle East Newsline reported.

"We are not only talking about weapons," a senior military source said.

"We are talking about the infiltration of Egyptian and other trainers to help improve the capability of Palestinian terrorist groups and the Palestinian Authority."

Israeli officials said the meetings with the Egyptians would focus on security cooperation along the borders between Egypt and Israel as well as Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The Egypt-Gaza border has been deemed a leading smuggling route of weapons for Palestinian insurgency groups.

Military sources said Egyptian police units along the Gaza border were believed to have been aiding or facilitating the flow of insurgents into the Gaza Strip. On Monday, an Israeli military officer was killed in the collapse of a Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnel near the Egyptian border.

Officials said Egypt wants to bolster its armed presence along the border with Israel in wake of its planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

They said Egypt has proposed revising the 1979 peace treaty so that 750 commandos would be allowed to patrol the eastern Sinai Peninsula. The proposed Egyptian force, meant for deployment in late 2005, would not be equipped with such heavy weaponry as mortars or anti-tank missiles.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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