Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat – Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that security agencies operating in the Gaza Strip are currently in the process of providing their Egyptian counterparts with information highlighting their past experiences in confronting Salafist jihadist groups. This is in order to help Cairo confront the militant groups operating on the Sinai Peninsula following the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers close to the Rafah Border Crossing.
A well-informed Palestinian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that this development was only possible after the Egyptian security apparatus confirmed that no Palestinian had been directly or indirectly implicated in this shocking attack. The source denied that this cooperation came in the wake of the recent decisions by Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to retire two of Egypt’s most senior generals and cancel the Constitutional Declaration, tightening his grip on power. The Palestinian source clarified that this security cooperation between Egypt and the Palestinian authorities in Gaza included the Egyptians being allowed to view the results of 3 years of cases involving Salafist jihadist groups, adding that many senior members of these groups were no longer present in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza security services had succeeded in striking a critical blow against Salafist jihadist organizations in the Gaza Strip, particularly the Jund Ansar Allah organization led by Abdel Latif Moussa. This was after Moussa announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Palestinian territories, leading to the Hamas security forces to enter a military confrontation with the group which ended in the arrest of most senior members of this group.
In addition to this, Raed Fattouh, Chairman of the Coordination Committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, stressed that the Egyptian authorities had not allowed even one liter of fuel to enter the Gaza Strip since the attack on the Egyptian soldiers. He also revealed that since July, Qatar had shipped a total of 7,920,000 tons of fuel into Gaza in an intermittent basis, adding this was to fuel the Gaza power plant.
On Monday, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah Border Crossing in both directions for a period of three days after it had been closed for the preceding 12 days following the death of 16 Egyptian soldiers and the injury of 7 others. The Rafah Border Crossing is the only legal way in or out of the Gaza Strip in light of the long-term besiegement of the Palestinian territory by Israel.
The National Security and Interior Ministry of the dissolved Gaza government stressed that only medical patients, holders of Gaza residency and holders of international passports who had registered at the ministry were being allowed to pass.
Jamal al-Khadri, head of the Popular Committee for Resisting the Siege [PCRS] welcomed the opening of the Rafah Border Crossing in both directions, saying that this 3-day opening must lead to a return to the crossing’s operation prior to the Sinai attack. He stressed that the Rafah Border Crossing must be opened permanently and there must be assurances that no outside incidents affect this, particularly as any closure of the border crossing has a grave impact on the daily lives of the Palestinian people. He said “the border crossing should be open in both directions without any obstacles”, stressing the importance of the Egyptians and Palestinians overcoming any passing incidents, confirming the deepness and strength of the relationship between the two countries.