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Fear of Hamas Attack Sparks Egyptian Alert; Top Terrorist Nabbed

Egypt went on emergency alert after reports that a Hamas attack on Israelis in Sinai is imminent. Cairo arrests Hamas’s top intelligence official.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 9/19/2010, 3:09 PM / Last Update: 9/19/2010, 3:24 PM

Israel news photo montage

Egypt went on emergency alert after reports of a possible imminent Hamas attack on Israel from the Sinai, where terrorists are suspected of either planning to smuggle missiles or fire those that already have been hidden there. Hamas has increased rocket attacks from Gaza the past couple of weeks in an effort to interrupt talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The alert follows by several days a rare and urgent warning from the United States of a possible imminent attack on Aqaba, the Jordanian resort city across the water from Eilat.

The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency said that Egypt announced a state of emergency Saturday and that security forces are combing the Sinai for Hamas terrorists. Last week, Egypt discovered a large cache of weapons in the Sinai, and early last month, six missiles were fired towards Eilat. One of them exploded in Aqaba and killed one person. Five rockets hit the Eilat region but did not cause damage or injuries.

Egypt initially denied and later admitted that the missiles were fired from its territory.

Meanwhile, Hamas intelligence chief Mohammed Dababash was arrested several days ago in Cairo, according to reports published Sunday in Arab media. The arrest strikes a major blow to the terrorist organization and Dababash’s detention may be linked to the attack on Eilat. He also probably possesses information on the imminent attack intelligence officials are trying to avert.

In addition, Dababash is assumed to have been closely involved in the Gaza coup in which the Hamas militia overpowered the forces of the rival Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

He is head of the general security and intelligence branch of the Hamas terrorist organization and is responsible for spy activities. One report said that he was arrested at the Cairo airport before he could continue on his way to Saudi Arabia and Damascus, where he was allegedly scheduled to meet with Hamas officials. Family members said he was returning from a pilgrimage.

Dababash was charged with using falsified travel papers, according to the Associated Press