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February 26, 2008
Al-Qaeda Entered Gaza During Breach
It didn't take much of a hole in the wall for al-Qaeda to slip in to Gaza after Hamas breached the border with Egypt last month, according to the head of Israeli military intelligence.
Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the weekly meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset that a large amount of weapons was also smuggled through the hole in the wall made by Gazans in Rafah:
Yadlin said the breach also "enabled Hamas to bring back those who had left for training in Syria and Iran, including snipers, explosives experts, rocket experts and engineers." Copious amounts of weaponry had also been smuggled in, he added. Meanwhile, the intelligence chief also warned of a possible attack by Hezb'allah:
MK Zvi Hendel (NU/NRP) said the situation in Gaza was reminiscent to Israel's silence as Hizbullah gained strength in the six years leading up to the Second Lebanon War. The same thing was happening in the Strip now, he said, with the bunkers being built and Hamas members assuming a military style of operation. "We must enter the Gaza Strip not in order to stay there for two days or two months, because there is no other solution," he said.
Addressing fears of a Hizbullah attack in response to the assassination of its terror chief, Imad Mughniyeh, Yadlin said that "from past experience, we know some of the revenge attacks were carried out on the 40-day anniversary of the killing," the end of the mourning period. Interestingly, some international observers now say it was likely that Syria carried out the assassination of Mughniyeh. If so, Iran may very have been aware of the attack which makes their threats against Israel sound hollow indeed.
Hizbullah blames Israel for Mughniyeh's death, although Jerusalem has denied involvement. In response, MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said "Israel must remain vigilant and ready at all times."