Intel branches split on Egypt's role

Shin Bet and IDF disagree on anti-smuggling ops; Vilna'i: Rafah crossing won't open without Schalit.

vilnai 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
vilnai 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and IDF Military Intelligence are split on their evaluation of Egyptian security forces' efforts to curb weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip since the cease-fire began in June, The Jerusalem Post has learned, ahead of a planned visit to Cairo by a high-level Israeli defense delegation next week. On Sunday, Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, his adviser David Haham, who is responsible for contacts with the Egyptians and a top Shin Bet official are scheduled to fly to Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. The visit will be the first high-level delegation to Egypt in recent weeks and will be used by Gilad to try and jump-start the talks for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, which have not progressed since Hamas turned down an Egyptian request to begin negotiations last week. The decision to add a representative of the Shin Bet to the delegation was made so Israel could show the Egyptians intelligence information collected since the cease-fire went into effect that shows weapons smuggling is continuing. Ahead of accepting the truce, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin as the Israeli "referee" for the cease-fire and to determine whether or not Hamas had ceased its smuggling activity. Last Sunday, Diskin told the cabinet that the Egyptians were not doing much more to stop the smuggling now than they had been doing before the cease-fire. He said the smuggling of arms from the Sinai peninsula had continued and that some four tons of explosives, as well as 50 anti-tank missiles and dozens of light arms had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip since the cease-fire went into effect. In contrast, senior defense officials said Tuesday they had received information from IDF military intelligence that while the smuggling continued, the Egyptians were making extra efforts to curb the flow of weaponry and explosives into Gaza. On Tuesday, an Egyptian security official announced that security forces had discovered eight new tunnels north of Rafah. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said that Israel would not permit the opening of the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt until Schalit was released. Israel, he said, would also refrain from increasing the amount of goods transferred from Israel into Gaza until progress was made in the talks. "The increase in the goods will happen in accordance with the progress made in the Schalit negotiations," Vilna'i said during a tour of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which will reopen on August 15 to facilitate the almost 100 trucks of goods a day being allowed into Gaza under the terms of the cease-fire. "The Rafah Crossing will not open until Schalit is home," said Vilnai.