Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Israelis Ordered to Leave Sinai Immediately, Terror Alert

by Hana Levi Julian

(IsraelNN.com) The National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a warning Tuesday afternoon to Israeli citizens to avoid traveling in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the report, intelligence sources received a credible terror alert of an immediate threat of attack by a terror cell operating in Sinai.

"Activity by terrorist elements in the Sinai Peninsula, who are working in order to abduct Israelis raises the possibility that they intend to perpetrate such an abduction in the very near, even immediate, future," said the warning.

Officials emphasized that the intelligence sources for the report were extremely reliable.

This warning is the latest in a host of other alerts warning Israelis against travel in the Sinai Peninsula, where terrorists from Gaza and elsewhere often gather.

A large number of terrorists from Hamas and other groups disappeared into Sinai after Hamas breached the border between Gaza and Egypt at Rafiah last January.

Tony Blair Receives Death Threat, Avoids Gaza
Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair also faced credible threats to his life by Arab terrorists Tuesday morning, suddenly changing his plans to visit Gaza after receiving an intelligence warning from the Israeli government.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) told Associated Press it had received “pinpoint information that Palestinians were planning to attack Blair in Gaza, so the relevant services alerted him to the fact.” The threat, said the agency, was “specific” and “credible.”

Blair, who is a diplomatic envoy for the US, Russia, United Nations and European Union, assured his would-be hosts, “I intend to go to Gaza as soon as I can, and I will continue to press for help for the people there.”

The former British prime minister has been largely responsible for the wealth of economic development funds that have been funneled to the Hamas terrorist-run region since the group seized control of the area in June 2007.

“We received a specific security threat so we thought it would be irresponsible [to ignore it,] not just to Mr. Blair but to the entire community,” said Blair’s spokesperson, Ruti Winterstein. The convoy turned back to Jerusalem as it approached the Erez Crossing upon being told by Defense Minister Ehud Barak “there was a threat that could materialize."

Blair’s visit to Gaza, his first since becoming the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, was intended to spotlight an internationally-funded waste-water project and to focus attention on Gaza’s economic problems.

Although did not intend to meet with any Hamas leaders during the visit, in keeping with the Quartet conditions to shun the group until it officially recognizes the State of Israel, renounces terrorism and upholds agreements made by the previous Palestinian Authority governments, Hamas was nonetheless outraged that he cancelled at the last minute.

“The story of security threats was only an Israeli invention to prevent the visit,” charged Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri. “Blair should not have accepted these silly allegations.”

According to the Associated Press, “Although the once lawless Gaza has been mostly pacified under Hamas' stern rule, there are still shadowy extremist Muslim groups in the territory. On an Islamist forum popular with Gaza residents, some users slammed Blair's expected visit, but there were no direct threats of violence against him. Those comments were later removed from the Web site.”

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