Claiming threat from Sinai, Israel closes Egypt border

Al Ahram Online, AFP, Sunday 11 Mar 2012

Fearing 'terrorist threat' from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Tel Aviv remains on high alert following last week's murder of resistance activist, a 12-year-old and more than a dozen other Palestinians

"Israel remains on high alert to repel any threat of terrorism that may stem from Sinai,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, referring to Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula.

Netanyahu made the statements following Israel’s assassination on Friday of Zuhair Al-Qaisi, secretary-general of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees.

An Israeli air raid on Gaza early Sunday killed a 12-year-old, bringing the death toll from strikes since Friday to 17 and dashing Hamas hopes of restoring a tacit truce.

The killing of the leader of the Popular Resistance Comittees and a slew of other militants in Israeli raids on Friday unleashed a spiral of tit-for-tat violence on the Israel-Gaza border that has made for the highest death toll in more than three years.

"Al-Qaisi was killed last Friday,” Israeli daily Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying in his weekly cabinet meeting. Al-Qaisi, he alleged, had been “the mastermind responsible for organising a number of terrorist attacks, and had been planning for the implementation of a new terrorist act."

The Israeli premier added that the self-proclaimed Jewish state remained “on alert for any terrorist attack from there [Sinai], and has ordered the closure of the road on the border with Egypt."

He also stated that the Israeli army was "hitting very strongly" in response to Palestinian resistance activity in the Gaza Strip in the wake of Al-Qaisi’s murder.  

Netanyahu went on to hail the effectiveness of Israel’s "Iron Dome" anti-missile system, vowing to set up anti-missile batteries in several areas of the country in coming months.

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