by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
(IsraelNN.com) Encouraged by their success in breaking through the Egyptian border with Gaza last week, a Hamas spokesman has threatened to gather 500,000 Palestinian Authority residents of the region for a similar assault on the perimeter fence dividing southern Israel from PA-controlled Gaza.
Ahmad Yousef, political advisor to the Gaza-based PA leader Ismail Haniyeh, called the fall of the barrier between Egyptian Sinai and Gaza last week a sign of the start of “a third Intifada.” Speaking with the PA’s Bethlehem-based Maan news agency, Yousef said the next stage in such a campaign could involve thousands of Gazan Arabs swarming the IDF-controlled Erez Crossing between Israel and and the PA in an effort to attract international support.
Meanwhile, Hamas militia forces cooperated with Egyptian soldiers on Monday in closing one of three gaps in the security barrier in the city of Rafiah, which straddles the Egyptian-Gaza border. Barbed wire was strung across a section of the separation wall known as the Brazil Gate; however, the main gate in the area remained open, allowing Gaza Arabs to continue to enter Egyptian towns unimpeded. Last week, when Egyptian forces attempted to close the border on their own, a PA bulldozer knocked a new opening in the separation wall.
The partial border control collaboration comes after Egyptian security forces ordered all stores in El-Arish, bordering the Gaza region, to close as of Sunday. Trucks loaded with goods and supplies were prevented from leaving El-Arish towards Rafiah. The move deprived PA Arabs who had charged into the Sinai from Gaza during the past week of a central economic incentive for their having done so.
Since the border breach on Wednesday of last week, representatives of Fatah, headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, have met with Egyptian officials to discuss the situation in Gaza. Both Fatah and Hamas are asking to take control of the Egypt-Gaza crossings. On Monday, Egypt sent 6,000 soldiers to reinforce troops and police stationed in Rafiah, with several Hamas terrorists reportedly taking part in the new deployment.
Gaza Terrorists Launch An Attack
Since last week, Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula have arrested dozens of armed PA Arabs who crossed the breached Gaza frontier. Security forces in southern Israel remain on high alert due to concerns that PA terrorists from Gaza are attempting to infiltrate Israel by way of Egypt.
Terrorists in the Gaza region managed to launch one lone attack on an Israeli target on Monday. PA militia forces fired a mortar shell at the Kissufim Crossing on Monday evening. The shell landed near the Eshkol region crossing, but caused no significant damage. No injuries were reported in the attack.