New York — In an address last week to the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, the head of Israeli military intelligence, disclosed that Al Qaeda operatives entered Gaza from Egypt following Israel’s withdrawal. Zeevi-Farkash also said that during the ten days after the withdrawal, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian terrorist groups brought in 3,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 300 rocket-propelled grenades, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition and an undetermined number of anti-tank rockets and surface-to-air missiles from Sinai.
ZOA National President Morton A Klein said, “ZOA and others were always concerned that there would be increased smuggling of weapons and increased movement of terrorists into Gaza after Israel left there. We now see that this fear has been realized. We call upon the Bush Administration to apply maximum pressure on Mahmoud Abbas, chief of PA, and President Mubarak of Egypt to root out Al Qaeda terrorists who have infiltrated Gaza since the Israeli withdrawal and to stop all future smuggling.” (Both Egyptian and PA forces in Gaza are responsible for stopping any smuggling, and fighting any terrorist activities there).
According to Maj. Gen. Yisrael Ziv, chief of the Israel Defense Forces’ Operations Directorate, an Egyptian-Israeli Joint Operations Command, which was meant to monitor the border between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, and coordinate Egyptian and Israeli responses to infiltration and terrorism, may only become operational next week. Ziv said that despite a drop in infiltration since Egypt deployed its troops, weapons are still being smuggled in. Ziv also indicated that Israel had withdrawn forces from the border on September 12 ahead of the Egyptian deployment because it wanted to avoid casualties resulting from anticipated Palestinian attacks upon its troops. Moreover, a senior military source said that over the last 10 days the PA has brought about $1 million worth of weapons and ammunition from Sinai. The source said the PA weapons transfer appeared to be in cooperation with local Egyptian authorities.
Klein added, “We are deeply concerned that the Gaza withdrawal has allowed Al Qaeda terrorists and massive weaponry to enter Gaza. We are also deeply concerned that arrangements made for keeping the Egypt-Gaza border secure have failed from the first day. It is also troubling to hear Gen. Ziv’s disclosure that the Israel Defense Forces’ position on the border was so exposed as a result of the withdrawal that it could not even remain deployed for a few additional days to protect Israel from terrorists and weaponry smuggled across the border. This speaks volumes about the harm to Israeli security that leaving Gaza has brought about.
“The infiltration of Al Qaeda terrorists is not unexpected. Already months ago, Gen. Yaacov Amidror, former head of the Israel Defense Forces Research Intelligence Assessment Division, was warning that, ‘leaving Gaza creates a dangerous possibility that Hamas will provide a Gaza safe haven for al-Qaeda … including operational, logistical and financial sanctuary there.’ Unfortunately, this now appears to be happening.
“We remember President Bush’s strong statement after 9/11 that ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ Surely we cannot continue aiding and dealing with the PA or Egypt if they do anything less than fully cooperate in the fight against Al Qaeda and that means rooting it out utterly in Gaza.”