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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Israel wakes up to the Rafah problem

From JPost:
Amid concerns that terrorists were allowed to leave Gaza and travel abroad for training in Iran, Israel has filed a complaint with Cairo after Egypt allowed 1,700 Palestinians to pass through the Rafah Crossing to make the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

On Monday, for the first time since Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in June, Egypt unilaterally opened the Rafah border terminal and allowed 700 Palestinians, who claimed to be religious pilgrims on their way to Mecca, to pass through. On Tuesday, another 1,000 crossed through the terminal.

"This is a clear breach of agreements we have made with the Egyptians," a senior diplomatic official said Wednesday, in reference to the November 2005 agreement under which the Rafah Crossing was opened. The official said the unilateral opening of the border had been preceded by another breach of agreements in October, when Egypt allowed 85 Hamas operatives to cross back into Gaza after cutting a hole in the border fence.

IDF intelligence estimates released Wednesday indicated that up to a couple of dozen Hamas terrorists were among the so-called pilgrims Egypt allowed out of the Gaza Strip. In recent years, hundreds of Hamas terrorists have traveled abroad to Iran and Lebanon for military training, and officials said it was possible that these terrorists would do the same.

In response to the increasing number of violations, the Foreign Ministry filed a harsh complaint with Cairo, and senior defense officials are scheduled to travel to Egypt in the coming week for talks about the recent events.
Too bad that Israel's Foreign Ministry doesn't read my blog, as I wrote that Hamas intended to illegally send the "pilgrims" through Rafah a week ago. That would have been the time to warn Egypt, not after the fact.