Shin Bet chief reports: Masses of high-quality weaponry, such as long-range rockets, roll into Gaza through the breached Sinai border
February 3, 2008, 5:35 PM (GMT+02:00)
The domestic security agency’s director, Yuval Diskin, warned the Israeli cabinet Sunday, Feb. 3, that the Palestinians exploited the chaos on the Gaza-Sinai border to smuggle in quantities of long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-air rockets and high explosives for missiles. Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists have headed south into Sinai. According to Western intelligence sources, they are spread out along the 220-km Israeli border.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources disclose the figure omitted from the cabinet’s official communiqué to avoid alarming the public: The number of armed terrorists at large in Sinai is estimated in the region of a thousand. Hamas prepared at least 30 tracks for them to use when it bulldozed the Gaza-Sinai border ten days ago.
Defense minister Ehud Barak therefore told the cabinet that a border barrier must be constructed urgently at two sections of the unfenced Israel-Egyptian border – Nitzana and Eilat.
However, he is too late. Insistent demands by senior IDF officers to fence the border were neglected for too long by the Olmert government. Now, the Egyptian-Israel border is wide open to terrorists and they have been presented with a safe haven in Sinai for hit-and-run attacks.
When Egyptian border police failed to stem the Palestinian surge out of Gaza last week, senior Israeli officers applied for permission to send up three combat helicopters, which they said would have been enough to stem the mass exit and the smuggling in of long-range rockets. But permission was withheld. It was denied in the same was as the high command was held back from embarking on an effective military operation to cut Hamas and its war machine down to size, when it was still readily feasible.
The Olmert government’s blunders over Gaza, military experts estimate, are potentially more ruinous to Israel security than even the mismanagement of the Lebanon War.