Egypt reinforces Gaza blockade by flooding tunnels, electronic fence

debkafile's intelligence sources report that Cairo has stepped up its siege measures against the Hamas-ruled Gaza. To cut off its smuggling routes through Sinai, Egypt is reinforcing the wall of iron plates embedded along the Philadelphi border of the southern Gaza Strip with a new pipe for flooding the smuggling tunnels with Mediterranean water. It is also building an electronic fence.
Cairo is expected by our sources to present Israel with the bill for these unprecedented measures when Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak meets Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Cairo Tuesday, Dec. 29. Our sources expect the price tag to come in the form of further concessions to Hamas' arch enemy, the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to tempt him into returning to the negotiating table with Israel after holding back for a year.
Egypt's reckoning with the Palestinian extremist Hamas is even bitterer than Israel's. This was the message Egyptian Intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman carried to Jerusalem on Dec. 20 when he arrived to prepare the ground for the Mubarak-Netanyahu talks. "We're finished with them," he said in reference to the Palestinian extremists.
Mubarak's demand for a Palestinian quid pro quo will be hard for the Israeli prime minister to resist without an open breach with Egyptian president, whom he has deliberately cultivated since taking office in March – especially when Egypt's siege measures are a lot tougher than Israel ever ventured.
DEBKA lists five:
1. Iron Blind, made up of armored iron plates 18 meters long and 50 cm thick driven into the ground along the 14-km Philadelphi border dividing the Gaza Strip from Egyptian Sinai. (For debkafile's Dec. 17 report, click HERE)
2. Along the same route, Egypt is building a giant underground pipe to carry water from the Mediterranean and flood the tunnels. The water will percolate to the deepest smuggling routes, down to 80 meters, which serve the terrorists as conduits for weapons deliveries. The pipeline's branches will inundate broad areas on both sides of the border.
3. An electronic fence is going up on the Gaza-Sinai border, like the one Israel has set up along its border with the Gaza Strip. It will have two openings equipped with cameras and electronic eyes supplied by the US army.
4. Egyptian forces have made it impossible for the 250-truck convoy of medical aid organized by the British politician George Galloway to reach the Gaza Strip through Sinai. It is now stranded in the Jordanian capital.
Galloway's plan was to use Jordanian ferries to carry the trucks from the Red Sea port of Aqaba to Sinai, disembark at Nuweiba and drive by road north to Gaza. But Cairo informed him Sunday, Dec. 27, that his convoy could access Sinai only through its northern port of El Arish and must do so by Jan. 4.
To reach el Arish, the trucks would have to go all the way round from Jordan through Syria and Turkey and then find a ship sailing to El Arish, a maneuver that is undoable by Cairo's deadline.


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