Sunday, December 30, 2007
Israeli official to Israel's radio: Cairo's policy is being shifted
"Israel considered Cairo's position towards underway Palestinian pilgrims' standoff, a shift in Egyptian policy with respect to Israeli-Egyptian relations, Israel's radio reported.
The radio quoted 'unnamed' Israeli political source as stating that Cairo will soon dispatch a security delegation in order to coordinate Israeli-Egyptian security activity along the Philadelphia route, on Gaza-Egypt border line.
The sources cited ' mounting weapons smuggling operations' from Egyptian territories onto the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The official regarded Cairo's decision to disallow entry of more than 2000 Gaza pilgrims back to Gaza from the Rafah crossing terminal ' a shift in Cairo's policy'.
The pilgrims are to be transferred in buses from the Egyptian red sea port of Nwaiba' to the border Egyptian town of aL-Arish, on their way back to Gaza, yet the passage they will take remained unknown.
The Egyptian authorities have demanded the pilgrims to sign papers, agreeing to enter through the Israeli-controlled crossing of Kerem Shalom or Karem Abu Salim, which would mean potential questioning of these pilgrims, who include some leaders of the Hamas movement and other Palestinian groups.
Cairo has recently prevented entry of such pilgrims through the Rafah crossing terminal, the route they crossed on their way to the Saudi Arabia, to attend one of the five main rituals of Islam 'pilgrimage season'.
The Rafah crossing terminal has been closed by Israel since June, after Hamas took over the coastal region amidst a power struggle with Fatah and since then Israel has repeatedly raised concerns of what it says 'weapons smuggling from Egypt'."