[Since the Fatah takes credit for many of the missile attacks on Israeli cities, does this mean that Egypt should be considered the supplier of weapons to the enemy? And what does this say about American and Israeli intelligence officials who have given its approval to the transfer of such weapons? – db]

Egypt has become a leading source of weapons for the Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Egyptian security sources said the regime of President Hosni Mubarak has offered to send thousands of light weapons, ammunition and communications equipment to forces loyal to Abbas. The sources said the weapons, along with training, would be deployed for an estimated 30,000 loyalist troops in the Gaza Strip.

On December 27, Egypt sent 2,000 rifles, 20,000 magazines and two million rounds of ammunition to Abbas forces. The sources said the Fatah-aligned troops received Soviet-origin AK-47 assault weapons from Egyptian Army surplus.

At the urging of the United States, Israel has agreed to the Egyptian weapons supply. For the last 18 months, Israel rejected weapons shipments from abroad until the PA demonstrates it willingness to end missile strikes from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt was also expected to send trainers and supervisors to build a credible force loyal to Abbas. The sources said about 2,000 Fatah fighters from the Badr Corps would arrive in the Gaza Strip from Jordan over the next few weeks.

The sources said that over the last six months Hamas has overpowered Fatah in the Gaza Strip. They said Hamas wrested control from Fatah of the weapons tunnels that link Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the Gaza Strip.

“Right now, Fatah remains strong only in northern Gaza,” the source said. “Everywhere else, they have either lost power or their interests are seriously threatened.”