Photo: Hanan Greenberg
Kerem Shalom crossing
Photo: Hanan Greenberg

Egypt uncovers explosives near border

Egyptian police uncover huge quantity of TNT; officials: Explosives were meant for Gaza terrorists

Egyptian security forces recently uncovered 1.5 tons of TNT explosives near the border with Israel.


A report on the discovery was relayed to Israel while an investigation into the matter has been launched by Egypt in a bid to discover who hid the huge quantity of explosives in the area.


Egyptian police officers uncovered the TNT about two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) south of the Kerem Shalom crossing. The explosives were placed in about 30 bags, which were promptly confiscated by police and removed from the area by trucks.


Security officials in Israel believe the explosives were earmarked for terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Officials believe some explosives may have already been transferred into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing or via another route.


In the past, terror groups made use of large quantities of explosives in underground tunnels used to carry out large-scale bombing attacks. However, the explosives are also used to produce bombs and Qassam rockets.


IDF sources said the discovery proves the high motivation to smuggle weapons and bomb-making materials through the Gaza-Egypt border. Meanwhile, officials noted Southern Command forces have prepared for the possibility of a tunnel being dug from the Strip to one of the nearby Israeli communities. As a result, sophisticated systems have been deployed at various points along the fence to counter the threat.


Security authorities are monitoring with concern developments on the Israel-Egypt border, both on the northern part left by the IDF during the disengagement plan as well as the southern sections, where the IDF has redeployed in an extensive manner recently.


Crossings still vulnerable


Israeli officials have expressed some satisfaction over developments on the northern section, which includes the Philadelphi route and the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings, where no Israeli presence exists. Officials said Egyptian efforts to curb arms smuggling attempts have improved, but noted the lack of adequate supervision at the crossings constitutes a vulnerability. Still, Egyptian forces were able to uncover at least seven arms smuggling tunnels along the border in recent months.


Meanwhile, the Kerem Shalom crossing is expected to open Sunday morning under a special arrangement that would see the crossing replace Northern Gaza's Karni crossing as a transfer point for goods. Karni has been closed down as a result of terror warnings.


The Palestinians have objected to the opening of Kerem Shalom, but Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered humanitarian goods be transferred to the Palestinians through Kerem Shalom. Mofaz also informed the U.S. and representatives of international groups the Karni closure does not stem from political considerations, but rather, from security needs.


פרסום ראשון: 03.18.06, 22:26
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