Remarks on this article courtesy Patrick Devenny, who has kindly offered to help out around here:
Critics of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza have long warned that the vacuum left behind would be filled by Hizballah, Al-Qaeda, and other foreign jihadist groups. Now, as Gaza descends into anarchy, these concerns have risen again to the fore, per FoxNews:
Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday said they fear Al Qaeda terrorists will infiltrate into Gaza through the open Gaza-Egypt border, where Palestinians and Egyptians have been crossing largely unfettered since Israel withdrew from the area four days ago.
In a deal worked out with Israel, Egypt is supposed to deploy 750 border troops to secure the frontier and prevent weapons smuggling, but neither those troops nor Palestinian policemen have been able to halt the flow of people and arms, including hundreds of assault rifles and pistols.
Israel fears international terrorists will exploit the chaotic border to infiltrate Gaza and Israel.
“We’re talking about Iran, we’re talking elements in Syria, we’re talking about groups like Hezbollah and we’re talking also about international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev. Israel has long accused Iran and Syria of sponsoring militant groups.
Rafiq Husseini, the top aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, said, “we are even more worried than Israel about Al Qaeda coming here because Al Qaeda will harm us more than Israel.” Such a presence, he said, would hurt prospects for peace and renewed negotiations with Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority security apparatus will arrest any suspected Al Qaeda members or other terrorist groups if they infiltrate Gaza,” he said.
These fears have been raised just two days after Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahhar told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “Yes, yes, it is true what is being said. A couple of Al-Qa’idah’s men have infiltrated Gaza. And further contacts are being made by telephone with organization centres abroad.”
The PA”s promise to fight Al-Qaeda in Gaza provides little solace, given the fact that they have yet to arrest any of the 100 gunmen who stormed the house of Moussa Arafat. Their ability — or willingness — to prevent Al-Qaeda agents from infiltrating the chaos of Gaza is doubtful.