Egyptians step up police presence, security in Sinai

Officials: Top Hamas security official Mahmoud Dababash arrested in Cairo airport with fake documents as Cairo fears rocket attacks on Israel.

September 20, 2010 03:42
3 minute read.
Hamas press conference in Gaza City.

Hamas press conference 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Egyptian security forces are on high alert in Sinai because of intelligence information about planned Palestinian rocket attacks from Egypt on Israel.

They are investigating reports of plans to smuggle rockets from Gaza into Egypt and then fire them into Israel, officials said. So far, no rockets have turned up.

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The officials say hundreds of police and private agents been deployed along the border, at entry points to Sinai and along checkpoints. According to Channel 1, Egyptian forces were chasing after a Palestinian terror cell through Sinai.

Israeli defense officials said that they were closely watching events in the Sinai Peninsula, which has been used in the past by Hamas to fire rockets into Israel, particularly Eilat.

Last week, the US Embassy in Jordan warned of an imminent threat around the port of Aqaba, which while not explained was understood as possibly connected to the increased terror alert in Sinai, where Egyptian security forces are said to be hunting down Hamas terrorist cells.

According to intelligence assessments in Israel, Hamas has made a strategic decision to increase its terrorist attacks against Israel – in the West Bank as well as from the Gaza Strip – to torpedo the Israel- Palestinian Authority peace talks.

While Hamas is not always directly behind the attacks it is allowing proxies that it supports and which are affiliated with global jihad elements to launch rockets and mortars into Israel. Hamas, however, has restrained them from carrying out larger attacks.

Sinai is a convenient launch pad for attacks on Israel since it grants the terrorist groups a degree of deniability. If rockets are fired from Gaza, Hamas is automatically blamed. If they are launched from Sinai, Israel would not immediately be able to accuse Hamas and would have to rely on intelligence services to verify that the Palestinian terrorist group was involved.

Meanwhile, a top Hamas security official was arrested at Cairo airport for using falsified travel documents, Egyptians officials said on Sunday.

Muhammad Dababish’s relatives said he was returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia when he was stopped.

Dababish is a top official in Hamas’s internal security unit, which oversees intelligence matters in Gaza. According to Hamas’s news media, Dababish, also known as Abu Radwan, is responsible for the group’s general security, intelligence operations and weapon and equipment smuggling into Gaza.

Hamas threatened that Dababish’s arrest would lead to a deterioration in relations with Egypt and called for his release, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

“We will operate in a manner which will force the Egyptian leadership to release Abu Radwan,” Hamas said in a statement.

Egypt has arrested a string of Hamas figures since one of its soldiers was killed in a border shooting early this year, including the son of a Hamas cabinet minister last month.

Egypt believes a Hamas sniper was responsible for the shooting.

Dababish was on a wanted list for using falsified travel documents to enter and leave Egypt, the officials said.

He was also questioned about an illegal shipment of walkietalkies interdicted by police in Sinai and apparently destined for Gaza, they added.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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