JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Reports are surfacing that vast quantities of sophisticated weapons are being smuggled from the chaos of the Libyan revolution to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Some of the arms are being purchased by the region’s Bedouin warlords for their own use, but a large surplus is being sold to Arab terrorist cells for their war on Israel.
According to The Washington Post, Egyptian security officials have intercepted shoulder-launched, surface-to-air missiles on their way road to Sinai via smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Anything from artillery rockets to antiaircraft guns are available in the Sinai arms market.
Israeli defense officials have not yet commented on the possible outcome of this escalation in arms supply. But security sources have unofficially noted that the addition of arms such as shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to the Hamas arsenal in Gaza might be a significant threat.
IDF manned reconnaissance aircraft—both helicopters and fixed-wing—regularly patrol Gaza airspace. Israel Air Force warplanes have attacked terrorist targets as necessary, particularly to prevent missiles from being launched from Gaza against civilian targets in Israel.
“We don’t want to see Egypt as a pathway to smuggle weapons,” said a retired Eygptian general, who noted that several surface-to-air missiles have been intercepted on the desert road from Libya to the Egyptian city of Alexandria and north on to Gaza.
“We believe some Palestinian groups made a deal with Libyans to get special weapons, such as shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles,” Sameh Seif al-Yazal, a retired Egyptian general in military intelligence, told the Post.
A Bedouin arms dealer known as Abu Ahmed told the paper that weapons smuggling has been easy since Egypt’s 18-day uprising and that the Libyan unrest next door has created a virtually open border. Antiaircraft 14.5mm machine guns are readily available, he said. Shoulder-fired Stinger-like antiaircraft missiles also are available, and he said their price has dropped from $10,000 to $4,000 because there are so many on the market.