A report published by the Herzlia, Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center says Iran regards Gaza as a strategic crossroads for insurgent operations in both Asia and Africa.

It also says Iran regards the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip as a regional power it can use to challenge Israel and its neighbors.

The report titled “Exposure of a Hezbollah network in Egypt” indicates Iran views the Hamas presence in the Gaza Strip as a convenient staging ground for staging terrorist attacks against Israel and in its fight with pro-Western Arab governments.

The report said the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah has been helping Hamas’ military buildup in the Gaza Strip, despite Hamas’ refusal to “fully comply with Iranian dictates.”

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“Iran considers the establishment of the radical Islamic entity in the Gaza Strip to be an important leverage for waging an armed struggle against Israel along its southern border by providing Palestinian terrorist organizations with rocket capabilities as Iran did with Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the report said. “What is more, the Iranians consider the Hamas-controlled Islamist Gaza Strip to be a regional power which they can use to increase their influence in the Arab and Muslim world, pose a considerable challenge to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], and export radical Islam to such pro-Western Arab countries as Egypt, using that country’s geographical proximity to the Gaza Strip.”

The report also said Iranian aid to the Gaza Strip was highlighted by the capture of a Hezbollah cell in Egypt in late 2008. Hezbollah reportedly operated Unit 1800, a unit assigned to establish operational terror cells to attack Israel from neighboring Arab states.

“It is also our assessment that those operatives had undergone training in Iran, Syria and Lebanon and had been brought back to the Gaza Strip with the assistance of Hezbollah,” the report said.

Hezbollah’s network in Egypt reportedly facilitated a weapons smuggling route through Sudan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip since at least 2005. The network, which acquired C4 plastic explosives and smuggled trained fighters to the Gaza Strip, was said to have planned attacks on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“The exposure of the Hezbollah network, which not only provided Gaza Strip terrorist organizations with logistical assistance but was also planning to perpetrate terrorist attacks on Egyptian soil, was a warning sign the Egyptians could not ignore,” the report said.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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