senior intelligence official warned Sunday that Hamas in the Gaza Strip
have rockets that can travel 80 kilometers (50 miles) — a longer range
than previously reported, which would put Tel Aviv within range of its
The official blamed Egypt, saying it was not
doing enough to stem smuggling through a network of tunnels along the
relatively short border between its Sinai desert and the Palestinian
territory. An Egyptian security official reached for comment maintained
that Egypt was combating the smuggling successfully.
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Israeli intelligence official said that Hamas is "making very big efforts to build up their military
capabilities ... building up their rocket capabilities in the Gaza
Strip, and all this is happening because of one important thing: the
smuggling of weapons through Egypt to the Gaza Strip."
"Most of the tunnels that are used to smuggle these rockets and
explosives and other weapons are in an area of three to four
kilometers," or up to 2.5 miles, said the official, who is privy to
high-level intelligence information and briefed foreign correspondents
on condition that he not be identified.
"We see it in our intelligence and we have photos of this. In many places
we can show photos of Egyptian soldiers located less than 20 meters
(yards) from the opening of a tunnel, and the tunnel is operating under
his eyes, under his control, and nobody is doing anything about it."
"Egypt can stop all this smuggling of weapons within 24 hours if they
want to do it," he said. "There are enough Egyptian troops and policemen
... located on this border."
MK Arye Eldad, a member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee, who has access to classified material, confirmed the
"Egypt is not a country that large quantities of weapons can enter
without the authorities knowing," he told The Associated Press, charging
that Egypt allows Hamas to acquire arms in exchange for the Islamic
militants leaving Egypt alone.
"They could easily train police to look for the smugglers and they don't," Eldad said.
A senior Egyptian intelligence official said Egyptian security has been
performing its duties successfully at the border with Gaza. He said they
have intercepted 50 tons of explosives in the past two years and have
been praised by Israeli intelligence for their work.