Thursday, February 3, 2011

More News on the Gaza-Egypt connection

More stories from today's news on the relationship between recent events in Egypt and terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip (see previous blog post for more on this):

Haaretz: Hezbollah militant convicted of terror escapes Egypt jail
A member of the Lebanese group Hezbollah convicted by Egypt on charges of planning attacks has escaped from prison, Egyptian security sources said on Thursday. Sami Chehab, sentenced last April to 15 years in prison, had escaped on Sunday, they said. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has previously confirmed Chehab as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was working to smuggle weapons through Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of inmates escaped prisons across Egypt this week, including at least one jail that housed Muslim militants northwest of Cairo, security officials said. On Sunday, 34 members of Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood - including seven members of the leadership - walked out of prison after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards, a Brotherhood official said...
Also on Sunday, three Palestinian security prisoners reportedly escaped back to the Gaza Strip via a smuggling tunnel. Officials in Gaza said the three, including at least one Hamas member, had fled during the upheaval and returned to the coastal territory. 

Reuters: Hamas Islamists permit anti-Mubarak rally in Gaza
Hundreds of Palestinians waving Egyptian flags demonstrated in Gaza on Thursday in favour of the rallies against President Hosni Mubarak, in the first display of public support permitted by the enclave's Islamist ruler, Hamas. Hamas would like to see a new government installed in Cairo that included its political ally, the Muslim Brotherhood. But it banned any gatherings earlier in the week while it waited to see how the crisis in Egypt would go.

Christian Science Monitor: What Egypt's unrest could mean for Hamas
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority officials fear the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt might prompt Cairo to ease access to Gaza, and help Hamas consolidate its rule there. Egypt has the keys to Gaza's only border not controlled by Israel. That leaves President Mubarak's successor, whoever it may be, with the option to open up the stifled territory of 1.5 million to trade and civilian traffic, or to continue the restrictions that weigh on the economy and the Islamic militant government there...
“It's a very sensitive point,” says Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University. “The current Egyptian regime has a strong interest in preventing the Hamas-controlled regime from moving into Egypt,” says Professor Steinberg. “There is an Israeli concern that a different government – an Islamic based government – would allow much more freedom of movement and terrorists across the border.”

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