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ISRAEL, GAZA: Security forces target Army of Islam operatives, again

November 17, 2010 |  6:35 pm

One of two Palestinians killed in Gaza in an Israeli airstrike Wednesday evening was Islam Yasin, a senior operative of the Army of Islam, according to an Israeli army statement. This is the second joint IDF-Shin Bet operation in two weeks targeting members of the organization, believed to be engaged in terrorism plots in Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

Two weeks ago, in the first targeted killing in some time, Israeli forces killed Mohammed Namnam, also in Gaza. The army, after a few hours of silence on the matter, said Namnam was a top member of the organization, which identifies with global Islamist causes and Al Qaeda, and was involved in preparing an attack against "American and Israeli targets" in the peninsula.

A few days after the first strike, Israel's counter-terrorism bureau, a body under the prime minister's office, issued an urgent advisory, urging Israelis in Sinai to leave immediately. The level of the warning was categorized as "very high concrete threat" and cited immediate, reliable information about an Army of Islam cell already deployed in Sinai planning to kidnap Israelis. Namnam's killing was connected to this, the bureau said.

These developments were followed by reports of arrests in Sinai and a man-hunt for another cell, Gaza-bound. They were also followed by the interesting report that Egypt had provided Israel with the intelligence for the first strike, according to Time, and denials of arrests from Egyptian officials in Sinai accusing Israel of serially issuing warnings before holidays to undermine the tourism economy. 

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman visited Israel and the West Bank in recent weeks for talks, though his  meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to be about jumpstarting the peace process. Israel will start building a fence along its border with Egypt in the next few weeks, in the hope of keeping out the steadily increasing stream of African migrants, as well as the terrorists, guns and drugs that move quietly through the sands of the largely open sprawling border

-- Batsheva Sobelman

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