How Will Egypt's Power Shift Affect Gaza Strip?

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Israel is waiting to see what impact the change of power in Egypt will have on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and wonders if its southern border might soon pose an even greater threat to the Jewish state.

In 2007, the terror group Hamas, took control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, more than 5,000 rockets and mortars have been launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza at Israeli communities -- more than 120 of them since the beginning of the year.

With Hamas taking up positions only about 300 yards from the Israeli-Gaza border, Israeli communities up to 25 miles away are in range of mortar and rocket fire.

Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot told journalists that after the fall of the Egyptian government, Hamas continues to stockpile weapons.

The terror organization also smuggles munitions and arms through underground tunnels and also from the sea into the Gaza Strip.

Many weapons and explosives are smuggled into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border and Israel is concerned that those smuggling efforts could now increase.

Miri Eisin is a 20-year veteran of Israeli military intelligence. She told CBN News the weapons come directly or indirectly from Iran.

"Sometimes it's going to go Iran toward Damascus and from there toward the Gaza Strip," Eisin explained. "The easiest way that they would prefer to do is by sea. And the reason is, because nobody touches it."

"If you can't do that, you go by land and you bring it by sea until the Sinai Peninsula," she added. "The Sinai Peninsula south of us, which is completely Egyptian ruled by Egypt -- Bedouins, the locals there, are the people make a living. Smuggling is a great living. You hook up whichever Bedouin tribe is doing the smuggling. That's the main smuggling route both for weapons and for people. It's up to the Egyptians."

Still Eisin said at least for now Hamas is trying to keep things under control to avoid Israeli retribution.

"Inside the Gaza Strip, Hamas has actually been trying to be more firm," Eisin said. "They don't want it to get out of hand."

The question Israel must ponder is, what will happen to Egypt? With the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood playing a major role in the next Egyptian government, Israel will continue to carefully monitor what happens on its southern border.

*Originally aired March 2011. 

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Reporter

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