Dangerous Escalation: Hamas gunmen from Gaza battle Egyptian forces in Sinai

Second front opened to undermine the Mubarak regime.

Gunmen of Hamas’s armed wing, Ezz e-Din al Qassam, crossed from Gaza into northern Sinai Sunday, Jan. 30 to attack Egyptian forces and push them back. They acted on orders from Hamas’ parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed by its bosses in Damascus, to open a second, Palestinian front against the Mubarak regime. The Muslim Brotherhood is therefore more active in the uprising than it would appear.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Hamas gunmen went straight into battle with Egyptian Interior Ministry special forces (CFF) in the southern Egyptian-controlled section of the border town of Rafah and the Sinai port of El Arish. Saturday, Bedouin tribesmen and local Palestinians used the mayhem in Cairo to clash with Egyptian forces at both northern Sinai key points and ransack their gun stores.

Sunday, Hamas terrorists aim to follow this up by pushing Egyptian forces out of the northern and central regions of the peninsula and so bring Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip under Palestinian control. Hamas would then be able to break out of the Egyptian blockade of the enclave and restore its smuggling routes in full. Officials in Gaza City confirmed Sunday that Hamas’s most notorious smuggling experts, including Muhammad Shaar, had broken out of the El Arish jail Saturday and were heading for Gaza City.
Our military sources further report that the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO), most of whose members are Americans and Canadians, are on maximum alert at their northern Sinai base, while they wait for US military transports to evacuate them to US bases in Europe.

This force was deployed in Sinai in 1981 for peacekeeping responsibilities and the supervision of the security provisions of the 1979 Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel under which the peninsula was demilitarized except for Egyptian police. Ending the MFO’s mission in Sinai after thirty years knocks down a key pillar propping up the treaty peace between Egypt and Israel.

Early Sunday, the Egyptian army quietly began transferring armored reinforcements including tanks through the tunnels under the Suez from Egypt proper eastward to northern Sinai in effort to drive the Hamas forces back.  The Egyptian troop presence in Sinai, which violates the terms of the peace treaty, has not been mentioned by either of the peace partners. Our Jerusalem sources report the Netanyahu government may have tacitly approved it.

Hamas’ Gaza leaders do not seem to fear Israel will resort to military or even air action to interfere with their incursion of Sinai, although it brings their armed units within easy reach of the long Egyptian border with Israel.
In central Cairo, thousands of protesters gathered Sunday morning, some having camped there overnight in defiance of the curfew. Their chants were different in two important senses from the slogans dominating the first five days of their protest. Now they are calling for both President Hosni Mubarak and his newly-appointed Vice President Gen. Omar Suleiman to resign, branding them “American agents.” Secondly, Islamic elements are more conspicuous among the crowd collecting in central Cairo Sunday.

Thousands of political prisoners, Islamic extremists and criminals are on the loose having reportedly escaped jails in the Cairo area.

The United States is preparing to evacuate citizens. The Embassy in Cairo advised all Americans to consider leaving the country as soon as possible. Ankara is sending planes to carry Turkish citizens out of the country. Saturday, the Israeli airline El Al sent a special flight to Cairo for families of embassy staff. The diplomats remain in place.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu updated the weekly cabinet session on his conversations overnight with President Barak Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Egyptian crisis.

From Debka
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21 Responses to Dangerous Escalation: Hamas gunmen from Gaza battle Egyptian forces in Sinai

  1. seree says:

    Nothing intelligent to say on this because it is absolutely petrifying.

  2. R. de Haan says:

    Hamas could provide Mubarak with the excuse to fight back.

    The more Hamas Fighters engage in fights with the Egyptian Army, the better for Israel.

    The Egyptians have the better Air Force compared to Syria and Iran.
    Currently, the backbone of the EAF are 240 F-16′s. The EAF also operates 18 Mirage
    2000′s. It continues to fly 32 upgraded F-4 Phantoms, 60 Dassault Mirage Vs, 26 C-130 Hercules, 8 E-2C Hawkeye AWACS aircraft which are being upgraded to Hawkeye 2000 standard provide AEW&C capability. But the EAF is still facing restrictions regarding air refueling capabilities and guided/precision munitions.

    The Syrian and Iranian Air Force is scrap junk.

    Just watch what the coming day’s will bring.

    By the way, I left you a posting at the video “When ideas have sex”

  3. Ligneus says:

    I guess Obama has decided to vote present. Who could have seen that coming?

    Worst President ever.

    I pray it will not turn into major war, I feel more optimistic tonight after digesting the news of the day for a while. The worrying part is that any normal American President could be counted on to counter any war moves by the Iranians, maybe Obama won’t have much choice when it comes down to it but he might take so long to make a decision that it will be nearly too late.
    Remember I said a while back Israel should destroy Hezbollah? It would be one less front to worry about now.

  4. Ligneus says:

    A fairly optimistic view from In From the Cold.

  5. R. de Haan says:

    Mubarak stays, real opposition is Britherhood of Islam. None of the parties involved in the uprising have a clear leader and ELBaradei? Who is ElBaradei.

    Mubarak is convinced of own doctrine to protect Egypt to become a second Iran.
    Security and stability under his strong arm is more important than democracy (or human rights) And Mubarak knows all the tricks in the book to break mass protests. The Army, the power base of Mubarak continues to be friendly with the people.
    But while the protesters are in the streets, gangs of looters ransack their homes.
    In the mean time Mubarak’s secret police continues it’s work and now the shops are getting empty? Instead of expensive food, there soon will be no food at all.
    The police will return to the streets soon and the standoff will continue.

    In the mean time the Egyptian Army is as ready as always.

    The popular uprising against the Egyptian regime reached a standoff at the end of its sixth day, Sunday night, Jan. 30: President Hosni Mubarak made it clear to the armed forces chiefs whom he met at military headquarters during the day that he has no intention of bowing to the massive popular call to step down .
    It is from there that operations to quell the uprising against his regime are being conducted.
    Mubarak clearly had not intention of heeding the pressure from Washington and European capitals to listen to the people and their call for an orderly transition to “a democratic government responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people” – reiterated by President Barack Obama Sunday.
    The generals then continued to pour divisions into Cairo and Egypt’s main cities in an effort to assume control. However, this tactic is not working: The officers and men on the ground realize they and their tanks are extras in a show of strength to the cities without the power to exert it: they can’t shoot the protesters or exercise any other form of violence.
    In Cairo, for instance, vigilantes protecting private property in the suburbs handed looters over to the soldiers who passed them to the police. In Alexandria, Egyptian tank officers were seen directing traffic in the town center.
    Against the regime, the opposition groups – of which there are at leas ten – are just as hamstrung by their failure to produce a leader able to stand up and challenge the president. For lack of any representative figure, they picked the retired nuclear watchdog director Dr. Mohamed ElBaradi to speak for them in negotiations over the transfer of power. Hardly anyone in Egypt knows him: He is better known outside the country having spent many years abroad.
    DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the Egyptian crisis looks like being in for a protracted period of uncertainty unless the army, which holds the key to breaking the deadlock, decided to step in and pick a side -Mubarak or the people. The generals alone have the clout to force Mubarak to step down and get out, as happened in Tunisia, or smash the street demonstrations. This would mean a massacre, the army’s identification with a repressive regime and the end of its historic acceptance as the people’s army.
    It will be noted that the new Vice President Gen. Omar Suleiman, 76, is seen more as a loyalist of the president, whom he served as intelligence minster and strong arm, than the military.
    He appears to be behind the steps ordered Sunday, such as sending Air Force fighter jets to swoop over Tahrir Square and building up a military presence in the main towns. None of these steps have broken the back of the uprising or intimidated the protesters. State TV announced accordinglty that the police would return to the streets Monday, two days after they were chased away by the protesters.
    The curfew which has been consistently flouted is to be extended: From 1500 hours Monday, Jan. 31, no one will be allowed on town streets until the following morning.

  6. R. de Haan says:

    Alan Caruba is on the subject as well.
    Waiting and Watching

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Alan Caruba get’s it and points to the real problem = our President conspiring with the UN:

    Israel Holds Its Breath

    By Alan Caruba

    After more than three thousand years of varying calamities, Jews have perfected survival against the odds. There is a joke they tell about “Jewish Zen”:

    “Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
    Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.”

    Right now, Israel and those who support the Jewish State are holding their breath, watching events in Egypt. What is happening is not inconsequential, given that Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 after a series of wars in which it had been soundly defeated.

    When the flamboyant Gamal Abed Al Nasser died, Anwar al-Sadat became Egypt’s president and, together with Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, they turned a corner toward peace. The treaty was greeted with angry demonstrations throughout the Arab world. Sadat, the peacemaker, was assassinated by Muslim zealots.

    At that point Hosni Mubarak became Egypt’s president and he has held the position for three decades as the head of what is essentially a one party system. There have been a half dozen assassination attempts on his life. He is 83 years old. Like most Arab nations and other third world nations, he ran an authoritarian regime.

    The peace deal included the return of the Sinai desert to Egypt by Israel. Under former Prime Minister Arial Sharon, Israelis who had lived in the Gaza strip were forced to leave and it was turned over to the Palestine Authority in a “land-for-peace” swap. The peaceloving Palestinians turned Gaza into a launch site for thousands of rockets into Israel.

    Today, Egypt shares a border with Gaza which features an unknown number of tunnels used to smuggle in weapons and goods. Gaza is run by Hamas, a terrorist Palestinian organization that drove the PA out at gunpoint.

    So the fate of Egypt is of importance to Israel. To Israel’s north, another terrorist group, Hezbollah, has taken over the government of Lebanon without firing a shot. Christians, Druze and Marists, along with others in Lebanon have once again lost control over their nation, formerly peacefully governed by a constitutional coalition of Christians and Muslims.

    None of this bodes well for Israel as it looks around at Middle Eastern and northern African nations in which governments are being overthrown for being noxious oppressors.

    Of great importance to Israel at this time is the question of what action the United States will or will not take regarding the current turmoil. Since the Egyptian uprising appears to be a genuine people’s rebellion, the question is who ends up with the reins of power there? My bet is on the military.

    Meanwhile, however, yet another United Nations resolution aimed at Israel like a guided missile is making its way through the Security Council and, at this point, only the U.S. can shoot it down with a veto.

    The UN resolution declares that any construction in the West Bank by Israel is illegal, even if it is in its capitol, Jerusalem.

    No American administration has been able to broker peace between Israel and the so-called Palestinians, the oldest existing group of “refugees” in the world.

    Following the end of a failed war against the then new state of Israel, the Arab population that fled became the sole object and purpose of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). No other refugee group in the world enjoys this status.

    There is a Palestinian problem because there is a United Nations problem.

    The United Nations is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of its Middle Eastern and Islamic members.

    What was to be a UN emergency response in May 1950, UNWRA has cost American taxpayers billions since then. Today, UNRWA continues to operate in both the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza, taken from the PA in June 2007. As noted in a recent article by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, in 2007 UNRWA employed more than 29,000, all but 200 of whom were Palestinians. Its “facilities and personnel have been tied to numerous terrorist attacks on Israel.”

    Sixty years of stalled and failed peace talks, as well as terror campaigns against Israel, have deligitimized Palestinian claims.

    Following Israel’s operation Cast Lead in December 2008 to stop Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket attacks, the Obama administration promised $400 million for Gaza and $600 million for the West Bank.

    Though not confirmed, the rumor-mill in Washington is saying that the Obama administration will not veto the latest in an endless succession of anti-Israel resolutions.

    If true, President Obama would become the first U.S. President to not defend Israel’s sovereignty.

    If true, it would signal to the entire Middle East and the world that America is abandoning the only true democracy in the region and its longtime ally.

    The United Nations was founded in 1945 after World War Two. It has since become a cesspool of corruption and an international cancer determined to become a one-world government. The time is long overdue for the U.S. to stop funding it and, indeed, to withdraw from it.

    If Obama does not veto the Security Council resolution, the U.S. will pay for that decision for decades to come. Israel will be in ever more certain peril.

    © Alan Caruba, 2011

  8. R. de Haan says:

    Clinton wants Mubarak to retreat and turn Egypt into a democracy!

    The reality however is more complex. 40% of the Egyptian population can’t read or write, According to Pew Research 75% of the Egyptians approves the stoning of women who commit adultery and the death penalty for infidels.
    If elections were organized at this moment in time the odds would be favor of a major win of the Muslim Brotherhood, a synonym for Iran. Let’s face it, who is waiting for a second Iran or a second Algeria when Egyptian Forces try to restore power again after a Brother Hood election win.
    Besides that, the protesters we see in the streets only represent a very small percentage of Egypt’s population.
    The best way to go would be if Mubarak survives the protests and promises to improve the conditions for the people in the country.

    It would be good from an economic point of view since Egypt runs the Channel,
    it would be good for the oil prices and the position of all the other regimes currently in power. A better educated Egypt and a gradual growth to a better legal position of it’s citizens is a much more clever approach than a jump into the medieval ages.
    It is evident that such a development is also in favor of the Israeli security interests.

    Clinton is wrong, Obama, is wrong and the EU is wrong not supporting Mubarak.
    Our foreign policies are a shame and our politicians plain stupid.

    R. de Haan

  9. Ligneus says:

    Victor Davis Hanson is as usual thoughtful on the subject.

    While David Warren is more realistic.

    • Ligneus says:

      And Roger Kimball is clarity itself. I wonder that he isn’t as well known as Krauthammer and when you think of the coverage that idiots like Chris Mathews gets it’s no wonder that the populace is so misinformed.

  10. R. de Haan says:

    Ligneus says:
    January 31, 2011 at 8:17 am
    And Roger Kimball is clarity itself.

    Yet another confirmation that the UN, OBAMA and the European leaders are pulling the same string to push Egypt into the hands of the UN.

    Not supporting Mubarak is an incredible risk.
    And we have dumb ass leaders.

  11. R. de Haan says:

    Mubarak announces new Government, oppositions calls for an attempt to get 1 million people into the streets and no word about the fighting between Hamas and the Egyptian Amry at the Sinaï border region. Elbaradei, an ennemy of the West pushed by Western Media? It makes you wonder how long it will take before our own people understand we’re ruled by traitors ourselves.

  12. Ligneus says:

    An excellent overview from Sultan Knish.

    That is the path that Iran’s leadership is following. We are being maneuvered into a tighter and tighter corner, with fewer and fewer allies left. The Middle East is being lost. And it’s happening on Obama’s watch.

  13. R. de Haan says:

    Netanyahu tries to play Egyptian military card – and gets Grad missiles
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis February 1, 2011, 12:11 AM (GMT+02:00) Tags: Egypt Israel Netanyahu uprising

    Hamas’ Grad rockets
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, Jan 31 he feared Egypt could end up with a radical Islamic regime as in Iran that would “grind human rights to dust” and go against the interests all the peoples of the region share for peace and stability. “Our main care is to preserve the peace,” he stressed in his first comment on the Egyptian crisis at a joint conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    The Israeli prime minister’s words were widely interpreted as support for President Hosni Murakak, for three decades faithful defender of peace with Israel, rather than a reference to the tidal changes overtaking Egypt and potentially other authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.
    He also made the gesture of allowing the first Egyptian 800 troops to enter Sinai since the military since the 1979 peace treaty demilitarized Sinai – as first disclosed by DEBKAfile.
    The troops arrived Monday, Jan. 31, to back up Egyptian special police units under attack from Hamas intruders from the Gaza Strip, who were acting on orders from the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.
    The Israeli prime minister repeated the same old mistake of leaning on the Egyptian military, in the person of the former intelligence minister – now Vice President – Omar Suleiman to sort out the Hamas threat from the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
    Equally true to form, Hamas hit back Monday night by shooting two long-range Grad rockets against the towns of Netivot and Ofakim, damaging a building and leaving a number of shock victims.
    For helping the dying regime, Hamas’ parent, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, punished Israel from the Gaza Strip.
    Netanyahu’s first two reactions to events in Egypt were knee-jerk gestures to old friends in Cairo rather than part of a far-sighted, clear-eyed assessment of the fast-moving Egyptian epic.
    They were misplaced on five counts:
    1. Mubarak may not return the favor. If he believes he can survive the raging popular demand for his removal by throwing Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel to the winds, he will not think twice. He will dump Israel just as the United States dumped him when the streets of Egypt filled with protesters.
    2. Is Netanyahu counting on the sustainability of Israel’s close military and intelligence ties with new Vice President? Apparently, he is – in which case he is backing Suleiman to come out on top of the standoff between Mubarak, the army and the protesters.
    Is Suleiman a peace asset? The truth is for that for a decade, the Egyptian general’s deep involvement in the Israel-Palestinian dispute has led Jerusalem astray time and again, especially with regard to Hamas, for which Israel is paying and will continue to pay a heavy price.
    Furthermore, while Suleiman is well liked in Jerusalem, he is despised at home almost as much as the president. And when Mubarak finally falls, he too will prove to be a broken reed.
    3. Any assistance the Netanyahu government may render the Mubarak regime – like opening the 1979 peace treaty to let troops into Sinai – is wasted as far as helping to stabilize the situation in Egypt is concerned. It may be used as dangerous precedent in the hands of a still unknown future regime.
    4. The Brotherhood is not a radical bogeyman on a par with Iran’s ayatollahs as depicted by Netanyahu. Egypt’s society is diverse enough to withstand a despotic theocracy as the first six days of the popular protests demonstrated.
    If anyone can keep the Muslim Brotherhood in its place, albeit with a role in government alongside other opposition factions, it is the army. According to our sources, a military takeover of government is in the making, planned for an interim stage until a new political order can legitimately take charge. Monday, the army announced it would not use force against the March of Millions called for Tuesday and considered the people’s demands legitimate.
    So what did the Israeli prime minister have to gain by being almost the only world leader to take a stand against the popular uprising in Egypt and putting the Muslim faction in the limelight?
    5. His slowness in formulating a strategic policy more in tune with the momentous changes overtaking Egypt and the region may be due to the failure of Israeli intelligence and his advisers to correctly diagnose the ferment in Egypt. They were taken by surprise when it boiled over.
    It may also be due to his innate tendency to respond to critical situations by doing nothing, as in the cases of the Iranian-backed Hizballah coup in Lebanon and Iran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb. In standing out against change in Egypt, Netanyahu has broken ranks with the United States and Europe, failed to address the inevitable transition of government, and turned Israel’s back on the Egyptian people’s universally championed fight for democratic reforms.
    Even Mubarak cannot avoid adapting to the changes landing on his head. Monday night, he asked Suleiman to start a dialogue with opposition leaders for “constitutional change.” When that change comes, where will Israel stand?

  14. Ligneus says:

    John Bolton on the Egyptian mess.

  15. R. de Haan says:

    Proof of US involvement riots Egypt?

    The emperor’s pink burka

    Iran has three major obstacles to overcome before regional dominance is a fact
    Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  16. R. de Haan says:

    Thanks for posting the Bolton interview.
    Nice to have a President who acts opposed the interests of the USA and drops Mubarak like a ripe plum.

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