Border security boosted after warning of attack
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt.
Wednesday 31 August 2011
Israel intensified a high-security alert along its border with Egypt yesterday after a warning that there might be a second wave of attacks by a militant cell of infiltrators.
Meanwhile, the military confirmed that two more warships had been sent to the maritime border with Egypt in a "routine" naval deployment.
As reinforcements of Israeli troops patrolled the border areas, the Home Front Minister, Matan Vilnai, said a cell of at least 10 militants linked to the Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad were in the Sinai.
The army has closed two of Israel's southernmost roads, including Highway 12, along which eight Israelis were killed just under a fortnight ago near Eilat by infiltrating gunmen who the army said reached Sinai from the Gaza Strip.
Israel then killed five prominent Gaza members of the Popular Resistance Committees, whom it blamed for the attack, triggering a cycle of rocket fire from Gaza and further air strikes, which have now abated.
"The Palestinian Islamic Jihad wants to carry out a terror attack along the Egyptian border," Mr Vilnai told reporters. "The Egyptian border is absolutely porous. We have known this for many years." Mr Vilnai suggested the militants might regard the post-Ramadan holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, which started yesterday, as the "right time" to carry out an attack.
Israel is only able to move ships from its Mediterranean bases to Eilat, the Red Sea port close to the Egyptian border, by using the Suez Canal.
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