Russian “military advisers” land in the Gaza Strip – debkafile reports exclusively. Jerusalem was not informed of this latest violation of the mili

The Egyptians and Palestinians deliberately opened the Rafah border crossing from Sinai to Gaza on Yom Kippur Thursday, Oct. 13 – this time not just for illicit Palestinian and weapons traffic – but to let in 15 Russian intelligence officers. Officially described as “military advisers” to train Palestinian security forces, their arrival floored Israel.
debkafile‘s military sources say this is a landmark, the first Russian military presence in a Palestinian war zone against Israel. It also represented another flagrant Egyptian violation of its commitments under the new military protocols it signed with Israel to bar the Philadelphi border crossing to foreign military personnel.
Their arrival was approved a day earlier, Oct. 12, in Ramallah between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Russian Middle East envoy for the Peace Process Alexander Kalugin.
Israel has not reacted to the violation because since its pullout from the Gazan-Egyptian border region a month ago, it has lost all control of the unbridled activity permitted by Cairo in defiance of all the accords it signed with Jerusalem. However the insertion of Russian military advisers to a Palestinian-Israeli flashpoint zone undoubtedly came up in the talks US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice held in Moscow Saturday, Oct. 15.
debkafile‘s military sources add: the Russian officers were flown in directly from Moscow to Cairo and then overland to the Egyptian side of Rafah where they were welcomed by Egyptian military intelligence officers. No notice was received in Jerusalem.
Moscow is clearly in mid-momentum of a fresh Middle East initiative. Putin has promised the Palestinian Authority in Gaza 1,000 armored personnel carriers. He is also going through with the sale of the state of the art Iskander SS-26 surface missiles, as first disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 224 on Sept 30. The Kalugin talks in Ramallah came on the heels of a visit by senior US official David Welch to wind up details of the Abbas White House visit. The Palestinian leader kept word of the Russian gambit close to his chest.
debkafile‘s intelligence experts recall Abu Mazen’s Cold War Russian connections with the former KGB’s First Directorate. A graduate of Moscow University, he retains those connections to the present day.
Three foreign intelligence missions are now operating in the Gaza Strip – the American CIA, the British MI6 and now the Russian FSB – as well as the Egyptians. They have all failed signally to prevent the Gaza Strip from falling into the clutches of the radical terrorist Hamas and Jihad Islami or stem al Qaeda’s percolation from Sinai. The Russians are unlikely to be any more successful.

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