From DEBKAfile January 24, 2008, 10:54 PM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added - SL]:
Mubarak pulls Eyptian border forces out of N. Sinai, Washington evacuates US MFO unit from El Arish
Announcing that Egypt would not expel the hundreds of thousands of Gazan Palestinians who continue to crossed the broken border fence into N. Sinai, President Hosni Mubarak redeployed his special border force from the Gazan border to points south of El Arish, Bir Lahfan and Abu Aweigila. This step effectively handed over to the control of Hamas-led Palestinian terrorist organizations and al Qaeda a northern Sinai enclave of roughly 855 sq, km., twice the area of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Early Thursday, Jan. 24, American forces and equipment withdrew from the Multi-force Organization base at Al Gura northeast of al Arish. This force monitors Sinai’s demilitarization under a key clause of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. Washington and Cairo are discussing evacuating the entire base and its 400 multinational personnel. The Egyptian high command was informed that Hamas had begun moving some of its elite units to its new stronghold.
Egyptian forces are not capable of contending with this strength or the hundreds of thousands of Gazan Palestinians on the move between Gaza and Sinai since Hamas blew up the concrete border fence Tuesday.
Israeli officials continue to treat the crisis as a problem for Egypt to address, rather than emanating from Israel’s failure to pre-empt Hamas’ well-laid plan with timely and appropriate military action.....