A senior Egyptian official has confirmed that the Egyptian army has prepared a contingency plan to attack targets in Gaza in the event that the security situation in the northern Sinai peninsula deteriorates, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
Earlier in the week, Hamas had dismissed “the talk about a possible Egyptian military operation in the Gaza Strip,” calling it “baseless.” “We urge our people not to pay attention to the rumors flying around,” a Hamas spokesman said.
But it appears that there is a basis to the reports.
Egyptian reconnaissance planes have photographed potential targets in Gaza, preparatory to air strikes, the source said.
The planning was prompted by an Egyptian assessment that some of the terrorist operations in the northern Sinai were carried out by Palestinians based in Gaza. The groups behind those operations were said to be on the Egyptian army hit list, which would seek to avoid harming the civilian population.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate. A Palestinian journalist in Gaza City said that “wherever you go, you hear people here talking not only about an Egyptian military plan, but also Israeli preparations to invade the Gaza Strip,” he said. “Some people believe that the Egyptians and Israelis may even launch a joint military offensive to topple the Hamas government,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
Increasingly aggressive action toward Gaza by Egyptian authorities has given credence to the fears of a military strike. In recent months, there have been helicopter flights over the Gaza Strip, the demolition of most of the smuggling tunnels and a shooting incident involving Palestinian fishermen near the border.