On Wednesday, the Egyptian state-owned Al Ahram daily reported that five
Palestinian insurgents were captured in Sinai, Middle East Newsline reported. The newspaper, quoting
Egyptian sources, said the Palestinians were found with sniper rifles and
explosives belts and planned to conduct suicide strikes in Israel.
"This is not a new concern," an Egyptian security officer said. "The new
element is that the flow of Palestinian operatives into Sinai has grown
tremendously over the last few weeks."
Security sources said Hamas, Jihad and PRC have established a logistics
network of Bedouins in the Sinai. The sources said the Palestinians also
relayed bribes to Egyptian officers who serve in eastern Sinai.
The sources said up to 400 Hamas, Jihad and PRC operatives were seeking
to remain in Sinai for operations against neighboring Israel. They said the
Palestinians were seeking refuge with Bedouin tribes in central Sinai.
The sources said the Palestinian insurgency presence in the Sinai has
expanded in wake of the destruction of the Sinai-Gaza border on Jan. 23.
They said up to 500 Hamas and Jihad operatives have infiltrated the
peninsula and acquired weapons and advanced communications systems.
This was the second capture of Palestinian insurgents in Sinai over the
last week. On Jan. 27, Egyptian security forces were said to have detained
Palestinians with weapons and advanced communications equipment in central
Sinai. The equipment was meant to monitor Egyptian Army and police
Al Ahram said the latest Palestinian insurgency cell also contained maps
with the locations of Israel Army bases near the Egyptian border. The maps
also contained assessments of Israeli soldiers at each bases.
The Egyptian border guards were offered thousands of dollars to enable
Palestinian insurgents to bring trucks from the Gaza Strip to Sinai. The
sources said the border guards allowed at least 20 such trucks to enter
Sinai within the first 24 hours of the destruction of the border wall.
Al Ahram reported that the regime of President Hosni Mubarak has decided
to erect a new border security system. The system would comprise of a border
fence equipped with surveillance cameras and other equipment to "absolutely
prevent infiltration, in keeping with the national security of Egypt."
Egypt, which deployed 20,000 troops, has set a Feb. 3 deadline for
the return of the Palestinians to the Gaza Strip. At one point, 700,000
Palestinians, most of whom were shoppers, were said to have crossed into