Hamas blows up Egypt-Israel-Jordan gas pipeline
Egyptian-Israel gas pipleline sabotaged
The pipeline supplying Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan was blown up near the North Sinai town of El Arish early Saturday Feb. 5. Egyptian state TV reported "terrorists" had carried out the attack which caused a huge explosion and fire. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conferred urgently with Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and energy firms over the abrupt cutoff of 25 percent of Israel's gas needs and ordered security beefed up at energy installations.
The Egyptian and Israeli accounts are contradictory.
An Israeli official spokesman said the explosion was nowhere near the Israeli section of the pipeline and closer to the Jordanian branch.
The Israeli Infrastructure Ministry spokesman reported that Egyptian gas, which covers 25 percent of Israel's needs, had been cut off at 0900 Saturday morning. He did not foresee regular power supplies being disrupted.
As previously feared, it now looks like the Egyptian-Israeli border has become a big problem:
DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources report that the attack on the El Arish gas facility was planned on military lines by a special Hamas team which infiltrated Sinai from Gaza last week. It was a major Hamas operation against on Israel (which incidentally supplies most of the Gaza Strip's power), and blatant Palestinian interference in Egypt's domestic unrest.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen in Cairo were quick to attach responsibility for the pipeline attack on disaffected Bedouin – a clumsy attempt, say DEBKAfile's sources, to clear their offshoot, Hamas, of blame for a well-planned act of which they must have had prior knowledge.
Jordan is badly hit by the loss of Egyptian gas which covers 80 percent of its energy consumption.
How this affects the "bigger picture":
The incident will support Mubarak's argument that his immediate departure as demanded by Obama would throw Egypt into chaos – and not only Egypt, but resonate devastatingly across the entire region.
Some of the opposition factions backed by the US for a role in future government, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are fiercely opposed to Egypt's peace relations with Israel which he has promoted for 32 years. The sale of Egyptian gas to Israel has come under constant attack in the street, which has accused the government of undercutting world prices and defrauding the Egyptian treasury.
This may just signal the beginning of these types of terrorist attacks. Perhaps more importantly, the border between Israel and Egypt appears to be more porous than ever - which is another factor revealing how the current situation in Egypt is yet another threat to Israel.