debkafile Reports: Egyptian-Israeli border tension rises with transfer of thousands of Egyptian interior ministry troops to Gaza’s Philadelphi Rout

debkafile‘s military sources report 4,000 Interior Ministry Al Aman al Markaz troops were suddenly moved to the Egyptian-Gaza border Saturday. They have beefed up the borders guards already deployed in the North Sinai region of many of the Palestinian arms smuggling tunnels riddling the border. This figure is well above that agreed in US-brokered security accords which went into force in August 2005 after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian official in Ismailia explained the deployment aimed at averting Israel’s plans to bomb arms smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route using precision-guided, deep-penetration weapons which would endanger the roughly 20,000 civilians who live close to the border.
debkafile reports: Israeli officials were taken by surprise by the Egyptian step and were at a loss to explain it. For more than a year, Egyptian border guards have turned a blind eye to the Palestinian tunnel traffic despite Cairo’s commitments under the military protocol of June 29, 2005
Our intelligence sources explain the sudden Egyptian build-up by two developments: Internal rivalry in the Egyptian government between defense and intelligence ministers Gen. Tantawi and Gen. Suleiman. The latter has sent the extra troops to establish a presence on the sensitive border. The other is the urgent need for an effective buffer to guard Sinai against a spillover of a Fatah-Hamas showdown which appears to be on thee verge of flaring in the Gaza Strip.

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