Egypt Defies Israel, Lets 2,300 Gazans Escape Israeli Security

Hamas terrorists sought by Israel will be allowed to enter Gaza via Egypt - in direct opposition to an Israeli request. So reports Al-Jazeera.

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Hillel Fendel,

Nearly 2,300 Arabs from Gaza, among them Hamas terrorists who wish to avoid Israeli arrest, will be allowed to enter Gaza via Egypt - in direct opposition to an Israeli request.

The Arabs, returning from a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, spent the weekend aboard two luxury ferries at a port in the Red Sea between Egypt's Sinai Desert and Saudi Arabia.  The Arabs refused to return to Gaza via Israel, and demanded to pass through Egyptian-controlled Rafiah instead.

In the past, Egypt had allowed Arabs of Gaza to return via Rafiah, sparking an Israeli protest that wanted Hamas terrorists were thus saved from Israeli security forces.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak officially requested of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during their meeting in Cairo last week, that Egypt route the Arabs through Israel.  Barak said that allowing the Arabs to enter via Rafiah was a diplomatic coup for Hamas, in showing that it has ties with an important country.  Mubarak agreed to Barak's request.

In fact, Egypt seemed poised to fulfill Israel's request this weekend - but Al-Jazeera reported Sunday morning that Egypt had caved in to Hamas and now plans to allow the terrorists to evade Israeli hands by routing them via Rafiah.

Other reports stated that Egypt has not yet decided what to do, and that the Arabs are being bused across the Sinai to temporary camps not far from Rafiah until a decision is made.

Arutz-7's request for a response from the Defense Ministry had not been met by press time.

Israel is interested in apprehending leading Hamas terrorists, as well as ensuring that they do not bring in massive amounts of cash to the Hamas government of Gaza. 

Israel has long complained that Egypt is not fulfilling its post-Disengagement obligations to effectively monitor the Rafiah crossing into Gaza.  The massive Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, which has been compared to that of an army, has been almost exclusively built up with weapons and materials smuggled through Rafiah and in tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor.

Both Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni and Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz have sharply criticized Egypt's peformance in this regard.  A top advisor to Mubarak responded over the weekend by saying, "It is not Egypt's job to protect Israel's borders."