Un­ease re­mains in Is­raeli bor­der ar­eas

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News -

THEESCALATIONinIs­rael’ssouthended al­most as abruptly as it be­gan, with no clear win­ners. Israel lost seven civil­ians and two sol­diers in the ter­ror at­tack on the bor­der near Ei­lat. In re­tal­i­a­tion, it killed 12 mem­bers of ter­ror­ist groups in Gaza, in­clud­ing those who al­legedly planned the at­tack.

Three Pales­tinian civil­ians were also killed. The lead­er­ship of the shad­owy Pop­u­lar Re­sis­tance Com­mit­tees (PRC) was wiped out, but the move­ment suc­ceeded not only in car­ry­ing out the dar­ing at­tack, but in con­tin­u­ing to fire mis­siles into Israel.

Mean­while, Ha­mas seemed to be los­ing con­trol over the smaller ter­ror groups op­er­at­ing from within the Gaza Strip,bu­tul­ti­mately­suc­ceeded­in­con­sol­i­dat­ing its hold by en­forc­ing a cease­fire from Sun­day night on­wards.

The PRC fight­ers spent a month in Si­nai, af­ter leav­ing Gaza through the tun­nel un­der Rafah. Their weapons were prob­a­bly picked up in Si­nai, which, since the Mubarak regime fell in Fe­bru­ary, has been awash with weapons, smug­gled in throughSu­dan­byIran,or­recent­ly­looted from aban­doned Libyan army de­pots.

Last week, the Egyp­tian army raided a work­shop man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­plo­sives in El Ar­ish in north­ern Si­nai. At times over­the­last­fewyears,thePRChas­beena prox­yof Ha­mas,acon­trac­tor­for­car­ry­ing out at­tacks on Israel, and oc­ca­sion­ally a chal­lenger to its hege­mony in Gaza. This time they chose to take on both Israel andE­gypt,con­firm­ingth­e­fear­sof se­nior of­fi­cers in the IDF that af­ter Mubarak, Egypt would be­come a base for at­tacks against Israel.

For the last 30 years, Israel has re­garded its south­ern fron­tier as a “bor­der of peace.” Last year, prompted by the thou­sands of African job-seek­ers walk­ing across, Israel fi­nally de­cided to build a new bor­der fence, with elec­tronic sur­veil­lance. It is due to be com­pleted by the end of 2012, but un­til then, un­less Egypt se­ri­ously acts to re­store or­der to Si­nai, the in­cur­sions are ex­pected to con­tinue.

THE RE­LA­TION­SHIP be­tween Israel and Egypt was fur­ther strained over the past week as the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment ac­cused Is­raeli sol­diers of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the deaths of five of its bor­der guards dur­ing the ter­ror at­tack near Ei­lat last Thurs­day. Israel agreed to ac­cept an Egyp­tian-bro­kered cease­fire.

While not is­su­ing an of­fi­cial state­ment on the Egyp­tian deaths, se­nior IDF sources have main­tained that Is­raeli forces “shot only at the sources of fire on the Egyp­tian side of the bor­der. The ter­ror­ists were us­ing the Egyp­tian bor­der post as cover.”

The IDF also be­lieves that some of the bor­der guards were killed by the ter­ror­ists’ fire and ex­plo­sive de­vices. But none of this could as­suage the anti-Israel at­mos­phere in Cairo, where thou­sands crowded around the Is­raeli Em­bassy, de­mand­ing that the tem­po­rary gov­ern­ment sever ties with Israel.

On Sun­day, the head of the IDF’s Plan­ning Branch, Ma­jor Gen­eral Amir Eshel, flew to Cairo for meet­ings with his Egyp­tian coun­ter­parts. The two sides agreed to set up a joint com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the deaths, but Egypt is al­ready de­mand­ing an of­fi­cial apol­ogy and com­pen­sa­tion.

Mean­while, Israel and Turkey are still try­ing to set­tle dif­fer­ences over 2010’s Gaza flotilla deaths. Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu told US Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton that Israel would not apol­o­gise, but diplo­mats from both sides were still in talks this week.

“Ne­tanyahu is try­ing so hard to solve the cri­sis with Turkey, he hired the lead­ing lin­guists to find a for­mula ac­cept­able to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment ad­viser.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.