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Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Obama, before the relationship soured
TEL AVIV – Palestinian terror groups have been smuggling vast quantities of weaponry into the Gaza Strip since the downfall of U.S.-allied Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in February, according to informed sources.
Speaking to WND from Gaza, one senior Palestinian jihadist used the term “paradise” to describe the open flow of weapons through routes between the coastal territory and the neighboring Egyptian Sinai.
Palestinian security sources in the West Bank, at odds with Gaza’s Hamas leadership, told WND Gazan jihadist groups are racing against time to bring into Gaza as many weapons as possible.
The jihadists fear Israeli or U.S. action to halt the weapons smuggling, the sources said.
Prior to the downfall of Mubarak there was some security cooperation between Israel and Egypt at stemming the weapons smuggling, although the Egyptian army long has been accused of turning a blind eye to some smuggling activity.
From 2008 until last year, a U.S. team occasionally worked with the Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians to help stop the smuggling. That team abandoned its work in the prelude to Mubarak’s downfall.
Mubarak’s departure was strongly urged by President Obama, who called for an immediate “transition to democracy” in Egypt.
Egypt now faces new elections amid fears the country’s Muslim Brotherhood could capture a significant portion of the vote. The Brotherhood seeks to create an Islamic caliphate. Both Hamas and al-Qaida are Brotherhood offshoots.
Yesterday, an Egyptian opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, called for a broad coalition of political forces, including the Islamists, to contest the first elections since Mubarak’s ouster.
Since February, there have been increasing signs of a more militant stance by Egypt’s rulers.
ElBaradei, a former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, said in April if Israel attacked Gaza his nation would declare war against “the Zionist regime.”
The same day, Egypt’s foreign minister said Cairo was ready to re-establish diplomatic ties with Tehran after a break of more than 30 years, signaling a clear shift in Iran policy since the fall of Mubarak.
“The Egyptian and Iranian people deserve to have mutual relations reflecting their history and civilization,” said Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby after meeting with Iranian official Mugtabi Amani.
Days after Mubarak stepped aside, Egypt allowed the passage of two Iranian warships through the strategic Suez Canal for the first time since 1979.
Also, WND reported in March the Egyptian military command met with Hamas to discuss ways to build a better relationship with the Islamist organization.