Iran aiming to exploit anarchy in post-Mubarak Sinai

Tehran studying new military presence in trying to establish mass smuggling mechanisms, according to defense officials.

building damage Gaza_311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
building damage Gaza_311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Iran is working to bolster its weapons-smuggling infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula as anarchy continues to prevail in Egypt following the toppling of the Mubarak regime earlier this month.
According to information obtained by Israel, Iran has been working to build new infrastructure in the Sinai that can be used to smuggle advanced weaponry in large quantities into the Gaza Strip.

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“Iran wants to take advantage of the current anarchy in Egypt and establish a stronger foothold in Gaza,” a senior defense official said. “They are building new capabilities, upgrading smuggling mechanisms and studying the new military presence there to see how it will affect them.”
While weapons have been regularly smuggled into Gaza even before Mubarak’s resignation, the Egyptian security forces were working to crack down on the smuggling efforts by building an underground steel wall and by using American tunnel-detection technology.
One known smuggling route for Iranian weapons to Hamas begins in Sudan or Eritrea where ships unload weaponry, which is then loaded onto trucks that travel up through Sudan and Egypt until they arrive at the Gaza-Egypt border. The weaponry is then smuggled into Gaza via one of the hundreds of tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor.
In addition the concern about an increase in smuggling, Israel also fears that the Sinai will turn into a launch pad for attacks into Israel.
Egyptian police authorities have abandoned dozens of police stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Beduins armed with missiles and assault rifles, according to information that has arrived in Israel.
This concern was behind Israel’s decision to permit close to 1,000 Egyptian soldiers to deploy in Sharm e-Sheikh and Rafa.
In recent years, the Sinai has turned into a platform for attacks against Israel including by Hamas, which several months ago launched Katyusha rockets into Eilat from the Egyptian territory. The Egyptian military has for years encountered difficulty in controlling the Beduin population that does not hold allegiance to the Egyptian government in Cairo.
Meanwhile Saturday, the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of targets throughout Gaza in retaliation to continued rocket fire on the western Negev.
The IAF bombed Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout southern and central Gaza, including a tunnel that the IDF said was being dug into Israel to be used by terrorists who planned to infiltrate to carry out an attack.
The aircraft attacked two terrorist targets in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Specific targets were hit and all IAF planes returned safely to their base.
“The strike was in response to rocket attacks on Israeli territory and the IDF will continue to work against terrorist activity that threatens the State of Israel,” a statement by the IDF read.
Palestinians in Gaza reported on Saturday that IDF planes hit targets in Gaza belonging to Islamic Jihad west of Khan Yunis.
Earlier in the day Palestinians reported that four people had been lightly injured as a result of IDF activity in the Gaza Strip, including a baby.
Overnight Friday, the IDF confirmed that IAF planes attacked two Islamic Jihad and Hamas targets in the central Gaza strip, in response to Kassam rockets fired on the Sdot Negev Regional Council earlier in the day.
The IDF spokesman confirmed direct hits on the targets. No Palestinian casualties were reported.
In addition to the Kassam rocket fired into Israel, another Kassam was fired that landed in Palestinian territory.
No one was injured and no damage was reported in the attack.