Hundreds of Hamas terrorists training in Syria, Iran
Senior defense officials warn that hundreds of Hamas members from Gaza escaping to Egypt, from where they travel on to Damascus, Tehran to attend special advanced terror training camps. Israel files official complaint with EU, Egypt, Abbas against European inspectors poor supervision at Rafah border terminal
However, the delegation of European inspectors stationed at Gaza-Egypt border denied the charges and claimed Israel never warned them or filed any complaints regarding the phenomenon.
In recent days Israel has filed a complaint with the European Union, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt claiming that the European inspectors at Rafah do not maintain tight enough supervision at the crossing, and fail to stop the stream of terrorists and money used to fund terror in and out of Gaza.
Top Israeli defense officials expressed great concern over the increased use of the Rafah crossing for terror purposes. If the EU inspectors don’t clamp down on money smuggling and the passage of terrorists, Israel may consider not renewing the agreements on Rafah crossing supervision when they expire in two months, the officials warned.
“This issue could be a stumbling block to all future agreements,” officials in Jerusalem said.
Iran, Syria boost Palestinian terrorAccording to official sources in Jerusalem, some 100 Hamas terrorists crossed the Rafah border terminal in recent weeks. Intelligence information collected by the defense establishment indicates that the terrorists make their way to special training camps in Iran and Syria, founded specially to train and coach Palestinians for terror attacks against Israel should Hamas decide to terminate its ceasefire.
Security officials in Israel said this phenomenon was part of the recent trend by which Iran and Syria have shown increasing involvement in developing Palestinian terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
Terror operatives from Gaza that train in Tehran and Damascus acquire knowledge and training in the use of advanced weapons. Terrorist elements continue to smuggle more and more advanced weapons into Gaza, including anti-tank missiles, ground-to-ground missiles (SSMs), and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that could threaten Israeli Air Force planes that fly over Gaza.
The officials said explosives and bombs are also being smuggled, and the security establishment fears that rocket-manufacturing know-how may leak from Gaza into Israel.
“Israel is following these terrorists closely,” one official said. “Israel turned to the EU, Egypt and the Palestinians in a bid to prevent the return of these terrorists upon the completion of their training in Iran and Syria.”
Israel is also following the continued smuggling of funds from Egypt to Gaza through the Rafah terminal. It is estimated that after Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led government, was caught trying to smuggle $80 million into the Strip, activists are now trying to smuggle smaller sums of money.
A spokesman for the EU delegation told Ynet that the Rafah terminal was open for only five days in February.
“The delegation does not have any real operational authority; it can only oversee traffic at the crossing,” he said.
“We have not received a complaint from the Israelis regarding the departure of terrorists or the smuggling of funds (through the crossing.) We check each and every suitcase.”