Crossfire War – Egyptian Troops on Gaza Border Placed on High Alert

Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Gaza – Beirut Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – Damascus – Ramallah – Beirut – El Arish – Gaza/Cairo – Amman – Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Egypt Places Troops on Gaza Border on High Alert to Confront Hamas – Cairo Suspects Hamas Timing New Explosions at Rafah Terminal to Coincide with Egypt Economic Crisis – Hamas Strength Level at 20,000

Night Watch: RAFAH TERMINAL – During the twelve days the Rafah Terminal was forced open by explosives set by Hamas on January 23, Tehran-Damascus enabled Hamas to import eighty tons of weapons and explosives into Gaza. Ongoing negotiations since then between Cairo and Hamas since then have been at an impasse with Rafah now open only a few hours a day and it seems Tehran wants a new confrontation with Cairo using Hamas and its contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In anticipation of that the Jerusalem Post is reporting the government of President Hosni Mubarak has not only placed a thousand troops all along the Gaza border but they are now on full alert and have orders to open fire on any attempt to force open the border again. An Israeli security official has stated, “They have most likely already planted explosives along the border with Egypt.” Not only will explosives be used but also bulldozers. What is especially significant Egypt’s Foreign Ministry believes Hamas has timed this crisis to coincide with “the concocted problems inside Egypt” a reference to this week’s violent riots over food prices. That is quite true, but its Tehran’s concoction and timing which was outlined during the two week visit to Egypt by Ali Larijani the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader late last year and early this one. [JPOST]

This is why I have often written Tehran’s regional policy is more of a threat to Cairo and President Hosni Mubarak than to Jerusalem since Mubarak is one of the last Islamic heads of state with close relations with the West due to his hatred of Islamic radicalism which Iran is the center of. Radicals assassinated Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 and Tehran named a street after the assassin. He is also at the head of one of the most strategically placed countries in the world. That is why Iran cloaked Larijani’s trip as supposedly an attempt to restore relations between Iran and Egypt when in reality Larijani was sent to accelerate the process of undermining Mubarak and his oppressive administration so of course Tehran will use the disturbances in Egypt over the economic crisis as another weapon of removal. Egyptian security will have to divide their attention between Hamas and the internal opposition, led by the Muslim Brotherhood which has intimate working relations with Hamas.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 Tehran has prepared Hamas, for this two front war against Israel-Egypt by creating a Hamas military almost equal to Hezbollah. About the only difference is Hamas does not have the long range missiles Iran-Syria have supplied Hezbollah. Tehran has enabled Hamas to now have an army of 20,000 well armed and well trained men. The Jerusalem Post mentioned a study of Hamas’ military by the Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center titled, “Hamas’ Military Buildup in the Gaza Strip.” The study details Hamas’ chain of command, its unit structure, weapons and tactics. Hamas’ military leadership has decided to avoid combat in open areas and has decided rather to force the combat into densely populated urban areas to use the lessons they studied in Hezbollah’s war with Israel in 2006. “Hezbollah’s success in providing an asymmetric response to the IDF (Israel Defence Force) might during the second Lebanon war (2006) also illustrated the importance of having a strong military force which could stand fast and survive to protect Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip. Like the military force Hezbollah established in south Lebanon.” But the IDF and Israel Air Force (IAF) will not be restrained as they were two years ago and Jerusalem has already stated they will not let Hamas survive. [JPOST]

The report named the senior military commanders and like Hezbollah Hamas is an extension of Iran’s military especially the Revolutionary Guards. The al-Kassam Brigade of 10,000 is commanded by Ahmed Ja’abri with the other 10,000 soldiers in the Hamas Executive Force. There are also 3,000-4,000 armed members of other Palestinian militant units like; Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Fatah-Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees. In the south of Gaza Hamas’ commanders are Muhammad Sinwar in Khan Yunis and Ra’ed al-Atar in Rafah. I suspect most of the Hamas units in the south will be committed against Egypt.

INN reports the IAF conducted two air strikes in the Gaza City district of Sajaya Wednesday evening in response to the raid on the fuel depot at Karni Crossing that afternoon near Nahal Oz by Palestinian militants operating under the cover of heavy rocket-mortar fire. Six gunmen who took part in the raid have been killed as mortar fire on Nahal Oz and Alumin continues. [INN]

Xinhua reports Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri is denying the findings of the Israel Intelligence and Terrorism Center, “This report is untrue and inaccurate. Hamas movement is a movement of resistance that resists the occupation and all what it has is a simple and humble kind of weapon.” Zhuri added compared with Israel’s sophisticated armament Hamas’ weapons are primitive. [XINHUA]

Willard Payne
Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.