debkafile: Much of southern Israel closed to civilian traffic, US and Israeli bases on high alert for Hamas incursions from Sinai

Most highways of the southern Negev – which adjoins the unfenced 220-km Egyptian Sinai frontier – were ordered shut to civilian traffic early Saturday, Jan. 26, until further notice. 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 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.

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