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Eli Shaked, a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, speculated in an interview with Channel 10 TV that if Mubarak’s reign is destabilized, radical Egyptian Islamists could fill the void.

“It’s good that Israel is keeping quiet, but there is no doubt that what is happening in Egypt is not good for Israeli interests,” Shaked said. “It will only be a matter of time before a leader of the revolution arises and he will come from the Muslim Brotherhood.

A stronger Muslim Brotherhood could also affect the balance of power between the rival Palestinian camps, the government of President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and the rival Hamas regime in Gaza.

Abbas is backed by the West, while his Islamic militant rivals draw their support from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Hamas is the Gaza branch of the Muslim brotherhood and could gain strength if their Egyptian brethren rise to power.

Abbas on Saturday called Mubarak, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa. Abbas told the Egyptian leader that he is eager to see Egypt stable and secure, the agency said.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

In Gaza, Palestinian residents rushed to buy extra gasoline, concerned that fuel supplies would run out. In the past few years, the majority of Gaza’s fuel has come from Egypt through underground smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Palestinian smugglers who work in the tunnels said Saturday that there were fewer fuel supplies available from Egypt, but that they were continuing to smuggle Egyptian fuel into Gaza. The Hamas-run National Economic Ministry, which oversees fuel supplies, said there were currently no fuel shortages in Gaza.

Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab Ghussein said there were no infiltrations on the Gaza-Egypt border.

“The southern border with the Gaza Strip is quiet. There is no security breach on that border,” Ghussein said.


Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.