JERUSALEM – A border deal brokered here in November by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped facilitate a major planned suicide operation thwarted at the last minute yesterday, which Palestinians say was coordinated by al-Qaida, security officials told WorldNetDaily.

“Rice’s border deal has been an abject failure from the start. Now it may have enabled a major operation that would have been devastating had it not been stopped minutes before. It has allowed terrorists free passage into and out of Gaza,” said a security official.

Palestinian forces yesterday stopped a car with several terrorists from passing through the Karni border checkpoint, the main cargo passage between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The crossing is controlled by the Palestinians on the Gaza side and by Israeli officers on the Israeli side.

Israel immediately closed the Karni crossing after the car was found to be explosives-laden. Security sources said the car, which was safely captured by Palestinian officers, contained “enormous” amounts of explosives meant to be detonated at the border crossing inside Israel.

At almost the exact same time in Sinai, on the Egyptian side of the Gaza-Egypt border just outside Israel’s Rafah crossing, two suicide bombers yesterday exploded near a multinational United Nations peacekeeping force, injuring at least four people.

The attackers hit just two days after a triple bombing killed 24 people at Egypt’s Sinai resort city of Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba.

Israeli security officials, for now, are refraining from commenting on whether yesterday’s bombings in the Sinai and attempted bombing at the nearby Israeli crossing were coordinated or if they were related to Monday’s Dahab attacks, which already are being widely attributed to al-Qaida.

Senior Palestinian security officials, including the chief of a Palestinian Authority intelligence agency, told WND yesterday’s attacks and thwarted bombing were indeed coordinated, were related to Monday’s Dahab bombings and were the handiwork of groups working on behalf of al-Qaida.

“Al-Qaida came just a few feet from attacking Israel for the first time,” said the intelligence chief, speaking on condition his name be withheld.

Palestinian security officials told WND they have information the terrorists involved in yesterday’s thwarted Karni attack traveled from Gaza to the Sinai desert where they received instructions and training and met with local Sinai jihadists to coordinate the bombings.

They said a joint Egyptian-Palestinian antiterrorism taskforce began combing the northern Sinai for suspected plotters of the attack.

The Palestinian security officials said the Gaza-based terrorists involved in the thwarted attack likely were able to travel in recent months to the Sinai through Gaza’s Rafah crossing, the main checkpoint between Egypt at Gaza. The checkpoint is one of the largest crossings between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip. It has been the scene of rampant Palestinian weapons smuggling the past few years.

Prior to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August, the Gaza side of the Rafah border was entirely controlled by the IDF.

But Rice in November brokered a border deal, which Israel accepted reportedly after intense American pressure, restricting the Jewish state to monitoring the Rafah crossing by camera, calling for a European presence at the border station and offering the Palestinians some veto power on vehicles and persons entering Gaza.

After Rice’s border deal was finalized in November, both Egyptian and Palestinian security forces deployed at the Rafah crossing, and a rotating team of European inspectors was stationed at the border. The Europeans have fled their posts several times in response to security threats.

New border rules, which sources close to the deal say were partially devised by Rice herself, stipulate Israel cannot restrict who leaves Gaza, but it can ask the European monitors to delay for several hours anyone crossing the border if Israel provides immediate information indicating an entrant may be a security threat. The regulations restrict Israel to rely on security cameras at the border and a list of entrants supplied by the Palestinians.

A WND probe recently found Rice’s Rafah border agreement has allowed terrorists to infiltrate the Gaza Strip, where they are poised to attack Israel, and grants Gaza-based terrorists freedom to travel into the nearby Sinai desert, where they can meet with regional jihadists – as Palestinian officials say was the case with yesterday’s thwarted bombing.

Israeli security officials told WND the cameras at the Rafah border are not sufficient to identify entrants, and they said the Palestinians have been failing to supply accurate and timely lists of individuals crossing into Gaza.

“There have been many cases of Israel not getting lists at all,” said a security official. “Or we get them so near the time of arrival we don’t have nearly enough time to ask an entrant to be delayed.”

Israeli security officials charged the Palestinians have tampered with the names of entrants, accusing Palestinian border workers of deliberately disguising the personal information of terrorists crossing the border.

“The result,” one security officials said, “is that the border between Gaza and Egypt is nonexistent.”

Indeed, several senior terrorists based in Gaza previously told WorldNetDaily they were able to cross into the Sinai and back without a problem.

One terror leader – a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, which is suspected of involvement in yesterday’s thwarted Israel crossing attack – said he went to the Sinai for “vacation” last month.

Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar’s brother, Fadel, entered Gaza through Rafah just days after Rice’s border deal was implemented, reportedly bringing with him 13 other wanted terrorists. Fadel Al-Zahar had been deported by Israel to Lebanon in 1991 after he was accused of orchestrating attacks.

An Israeli official said yesterday, “We are still investigating the Karni attack. Certainly the Rafah crossing is allowing terrorists from Gaza to cross into Sinai for training and instructions. It is very likely this collapse of any security at Rafah facilitated yesterday’s thwarted attack.”

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