Open-air weapon smuggeling into Gaza
The Egyptian Secuirty authorities gotta be kidding me: Palestinian gunrunners smuggled hundreds of assault rifles and pistols across the Egyptian frontier into Gaza, dealers and border officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The influx confirmed Israeli fears about giving up border control and could further destabilize Gaza. Black market prices for weapons dropped sharply, with AK-47 assault rifles nearly cut in half to $1,300 and even steeper reductions for handguns. [...] Egypt had assured Israel it would prevent weapons smuggling once its troops take over from Israel along the Gaza frontier, and Cairo and the Palestinian Authority pledged to seal the once-heavily defended border by Wednesday evening. Thousands have crossed unhindered since Monday. Around 8 p.m. Wednesday, about two hours after the deadline for closing the border, an Egyptian officer bellowed into a bullhorn for Palestinians to stop entering Egypt and prepare to return to Gaza. The frontier was still porous later, however, with Egyptian police pushing back Palestinians scaling the concrete wall on the Gaza side and trying to sneak through the barbed-wire fence on the Egyptian side. Up to 750 Egyptian border guards were expected Thursday morning, Egyptian police said. Palestinian security forces in Gaza apparently were doing little to stop infiltrators. At midday, Hamas militants blew a hole in the Gaza wall, making it even easier for people to enter the 18-foot-wide buffer zone leading to Egypt's fence. Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa told the AP the border was officially closed as of 6 p.m. but that Palestinians and Egyptians caught on the wrong side were being allowed to cross. He said there had been a small amount of arms smuggling. Just a small amount. No big deal. Riiiight. Why do I doubt that? Wait, I know: Another dealer, interviewed in a car outside the Rafah cemetery, said hundreds of AK-47s had been smuggled from Egypt since Monday. He said he has sold his loot to militants but declined to say how many pieces his runners brought back. [...] Khader, interviewed by phone, said his runners came back mainly with pistols and bullets, rather than assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. "My people brought me lots of things, including pistols and gold," he said. A third dealer, who gave his name as Hafez, said competitors reported having $1 million worth of loot confiscated, including grenade launchers. "That's why everyone was focusing on small pieces," he said. Oh Boy.