IDF beefs up forces to thwart terror cells which left Gaza

Top IDF officer says terror alerts along the Egyptian border have reached highest level since onset of Second Intifada.

IDF Kerem Shalom 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
IDF Kerem Shalom 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Terror alerts along the Egyptian border have reached their highest level since the onset of the Second Intifada, a senior IDF officer said Monday, while other members of the security forces said that intelligence information confirmed that terrorists had taken advantage of the open Rafah border to stream into the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip. As many as 20 cells may be trying to organize in the Sinai to use it as what one officer in the security services described as "a platform to launch significant attacks on targets in Israel." The over 200 kilometers of unobstructed border between Egypt and Israel, crossing harsh and mountainous desert terrain are viewed by many terrorists as a golden opportunity to cross in to Israel. "We know for certain that some of the 'bad guys' crossed into Egypt together with the Gazans who came to buy supplies," said the officer. "Now, they're hoping that it will be much easier to launch attacks across the border with Egypt than from Gaza." In recent days the IDF has reinforced its troops along the Egyptian border. Last Thursday, Route 10, which runs along the border from Ovda to Kerem Shalom, was closed to civilian traffic and Israelis were warned to return immediately from resorts in the Sinai Peninsula. One day later the IDF decided to temporarily close tourist areas near the border, including Be'er Milcha, Be'erotayim, Ezuz, Mount Harif, the Lotz Pools, Mount Ramon and the various mountain trails around Eilat. Some of the information that security services have received indicates that terrorists may be trying to launch a variety of types of attacks, including assaults against IDF border posts and kidnapping attempts against both IDF troops and civilians as well as suicide bombings. Army Radio reported Monday morning that a senior IDF officer said that the number of warnings of terror attacks through the Egyptian border has reached its highest level since 2000. That officer added that the IDF knew of 20 terror cells in Sinai trying to launch attacks against IDF units in the area. Two companies of Border Police forces were deployed in Eilat to help maintain security at what is viewed by many to be a major target of terrorists crossing the Egyptian border. Meanwhile, in Gaza, the IAF continued to target Hamas facilities in the southern part of the territory. Late Sunday night, the IAF struck armored vehicles that they said were used by Hamas at a training facility near the former settlement of Morag. Although the IAF did not report any casualties or damage, Hamas claimed to have fired anti-aircraft weapons at the IAF aircraft.