Israel is not facing palestinian terror alone, but a steadily building nexus of state sponsored terror, possibly as a prelude to all out war against it.
Syria may or may not be fatally weakened in the short term by its internal protests but in the near future Israel will be faced with the possibility of a number of fronts including Gaza, Egypt, Lebanon and very possibly Iran. Egypt is the game changer. It has the largest and most modern arab army in the middle east and the possibility is growing that it will be prepared to use it against Israel in the not too distant future. Saudi Arabia must not be discounted either despite Iran being predominant as its main strategic concern. Attacking Israel during a war can be difficult to resist as King Hussein found in 1973. Even after he warned Golda Meir of the coming attack on Yom Kippur, he still went on to send his crack tank brigade to help Syria on the Golan Heights (coordinated with a surprise Iraqi in filtration of hundreds of tanks and a division of 18,000 men). Whether Iran influenced Iraq will join in any new attack on Israel is also a moot point. It certainly won't fight Iran if it would attempt to transfer troops and supplies to the front against Israel in a future arab-Israel war.
Israel must not forget either 25,000 PA troops/police who might be used to harry Israel along its lines of communications during a future war, to hinder its mobilisation whilst under intense rocket attack from Hezbollah, Gaza and Iran. The PA force would most likely attempt to cut the country in two whilst otherwise occupied.
With the above in mind Al Ahram's report in arabic today regarding the attack on Israel near Eilat by palestinian terrorists at least some of whom were according to eyewitnesses wearing Egyptian army uniform is instructive of the strategic shift in egyptian thinking, of its new and radicalised attitude to Israel.
Al Ahram mentions the egyptian government calling
“for an urgent investigation in the deaths and injuries of its troops in the border” after “the martyrdom of 3 and of the injury of 7 Egyptian security forces yesterday in the Egyptian border.”The paper mentions
“a wave of outrage in political circles after the death of an officer and two soldiers yesterday evening on the border by Israeli fire. “
“Amr Moussa a likely candidate for the presidency wants a strong message to be sent to Israel, that
“Israel should be aware that the day when Israel kills our children without the appropriate strong response have gone never to return.”
Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for the presidency (and possibly Egypt's future president) has called to
'expel the Israeli ambassador and to stop gas exports to Israel'(Mr Fotouh should know that there are no such exports of gas as beduin allied to Hamas/Al Qaida having blown up the pipeline for the fifth time are still waiting for it to be fixed so that they can repeat the exercise).
Al Ahram continues that:
“several hundred young people held a protest in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protest the crime committed by Israeli forces against the Egyptian soldiers.
And called on young people to expel the Israeli ambassador and denounced the aggressive policies of its government. ”
“Israel has sought yesterday to escalate the tension in the region to continue to launch violent raids on the Gaza Strip. After a long night witnessed a brutal bombardment by the Israelis on the Gaza Strip killed and wounded dozens, Israeli warplanes resumed raids Monday morning targeting security installations belonging to Hamas in Gaza. The shelling killed a Palestinian child and wounded 71 others, in reprisal for the killing of 8 Israelis yesterday in attacks by insurgents in southern Israel near the border with Egypt. ”
Notice that there is no condemnation of the terror attack on Israel by Al Ahram a mouthpiece of the Egyptian government. There is no attempt to understand that Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself, or explain that Israeli representatives have reiterated that there was no intention to harm Egypt or its soldiers.
There is only anger that Israel is supposedly seeking to 'escalate' the tensions. That Israel only has peaceful intentions towards Egypt and only attacks Gaza in self-defence after being attacked does not fit with the demonic image of Israel that Al Ahram (and at one remove the new government of Egypt) seems to wish to portray.
That Israel targeted and killed the leadership of the PRC a Hamas linked terrorist group that committed the attack on Israel is not even mentioned in the Al Ahram article. Only the fact of the tragic death of a child is mentioned, to intimate that Israel was taking indiscriminate revenge rather than bringing justice to the named culprits being sheltered by Hamas in Gaza.
The fact that there was only one civilian death out of five terrorists killed in a number of operations by Israel is a testimony to Israel's success in avoiding civilian casualties in its operations. Nato forces and even UK and US forces come nowhere near the israeli success in avoiding civilian casualtiesin similar operations.
Al Ahram goes on to mention the burial of “police captain Ahmed Galal Mohamed, who fell by Israeli fire during the performance of his duty. ” There is no mention that the situation is unclear as to just who killed the policeman, that maybe he was caught in crossifre during the firefight between the terrorists and Israelis, or even that the policeman might have participated in the attack that happened right under the noses of an Egyptian strongpoint. There is no mention that it is not even certain that an Israeli killed the the police captain. Al Ahram fails to mention that the Israelis had been chasing the terrorists who had killed seven and injured scores of people at the border in hot pursuit.
The Egyptian press has long incited against Israel and today the Egyptian government is acting like Turkey over the Mavi-Marmara incident (Turkish terrorists were killed after attacking Israeli soldiers. The Turkish government has subsequently all but cut the once close ties with Israel).
Egypt has moved rapidly to condemn Israel and withdraw its ambassador. Leading secular candidates for the November elections in Egypt are calling (again) for an end to the peace treaty with Israel.
What is interesting is that the Egyptian government has rushed to condemn Israel and withdraw its ambassador rather than worry about the possibility that some of its soldiers in the Sinai and on the border with Israel might be out of control, that they either took part in, or allowed the terrorists to infiltrate and attack Israel in the vicinity of one of their military outposts.
Rather than show that Egypt is worried at this further indication that the situation in the Sinai is deteriorating rapidly, that the Sinai is becoming a staging ground for attacks on Egyptian outposts, its gas pipeline and now on Israel, its very sovereignty there, the Egyptian government has utilised this serious act of aggression against Israel commited from egyptian territory to turn its ire on Israel the victim of that aggression.
Indeed the egyptian government has sought on the one hand to deny that the attack was launched from the Sinai, whilst on the other hand it has “blamed Israel for lax border controls.” So Israel is to be blamed for terrorist attacks against it on the grounds that it fails to act in its defence of itself because of lax border controls yet when Israel then kills the culprits Israel is again culpable for having acted. This ridiculous argument is like condemning a man mugged in the street as being responsible for what happened by virtue of not watching his back.
Israel has very good security along the Egyptian border as this writer personally witnessed one night not too long ago. The patrol that came accross me had already arrested beduin smugglers that very night. Israel is furthermore building a fence along the whole stretch of the border, but no system of security can eliminate the risk that those who wish to harm you will find your weak spot and succeed.
Survivors of one of the terror attacks mentioned having seen terrorists dressed in Egyptian camouflage who were supposedly mending a border fence before attacking the Israelis.
In this report in Haaretz:
“Witnesses describe attackers dressed in Egyptian military fatigues. "I thought they were soldiers repairing the fence," Bilefsky recalls. "I slowed a bit, and then I caught a hail of bullets."”
Rather than Egypt rushing to condemn Israel for what happened when Israelis allegedly killed Egyptian soldiers (the exact facts of the incident remain unclear as to whether Israelis did in fact kill Egyptian soldiers or police) surely Egypt should understand that Israel was faced with a dire situation during this terror attack that was staged by a large group and carried out in a number of places with at least one group using a vehicle to move about during their mission to kill israeli civilians.
Surely it is in Egypt's interests to stop and think before condemning Israel? Mubarak didn't act to seall of Gaza because he loved Israel, just the opposite. Whilst Israel bled he did nothing. It was only when Hezbollah and Hamas agents were arrested in Egypt and planning attacks there that Mubarak understood the threat they posed to the Egyptian state. Has this egyptian government already forgotten the lesson that giving terrorists succour even when they are attacking the “enemy” Israel will come back to bite Egypt. Has egyptian rule in the Sinai not already suffered in the recent attacks on its installations there?
There seems to be an agenda at work. Just as with the attempted lynchings aboard the Mavi Marmara, this attack and Israel's response to it is a golden opportunity for those in Egypt who wish to undermine the peace treaty with Israel to ratchet up a gear.
The Egyptian authorities have never promoted peace with Israel, but rather allowed the cold peace to continue whereby egyptian media constantly incites against Israel.
Despite this the peace has held and both sides recognised its benefits as Daniel Pipes
Daniel Pipes has however long been sceptical about Egypt's peaceful intentions towards Israel citing conspiracy theories
directed at Israel. He mentions such canards as the 'zionists' spreading AIDS and poisons.
DP might update his article to include Israel's infecting Egyptian bamboo shoots according to Ayman Abu-Hadid
Egypt's agriculture minister
However ludicrous the allegation, Israel will always fit the bill for the conspiracy theorists. Israel is of course responsible when sharks kill tourists, for trying to sterilise Egyptian women and whatever new demonic Israeli plan Israel's detractors can dream up.
Michael Totten thanked his lucky stars recently that he left Egypt just in time. After he left egyptian 'intelligence' agencies subcontracted local thugs to round up tourists for delivery to the authorities, after the mandatory roughing up. Ilan Grapel the
'facebook spy'has not been so lucky
languishing in an egyptian prison despite entering Egypt on his american passport. Can the USA really not do anything to free Grapel whilst keeping Egypt afloat with food aid and billions of dollars of subsidies each year? American citizens reading this should contact their representatives. Anyone who isn't paranoid and has read Grapel's life history will realise that this young man is the most unlikely spy possible. Good hearted and overly optimistic about the prospects of arab/palestinian-israeli peace he definitely is. Naive also. But Egypt is most likely working hard at this very moment to remove that naivity and optimism from him. Good luck to you Ilan and return home safely soon.
That the egyptian government in Mubarak's time never acted against the constant demonisation of jews and Israel was one thing, but to actively act to undermine the peace process (even before Israel buried the victims of this new terror outrage) is playing with fire with an egyptian populace that is young, brought up on anti-semitic stereotypes and false allegations and therefore see themselves as somehow under threat by vile zionsists, who have thereby been prepared over many a long year to willingly take part in any future conflict with Israel and yet do not know the horrors of war.
There is a whole new generation that is prepared, willing and very possibly looking forwards to a new war with Israel.
Egypt's economy already on the rocks does not need even the posturing short of war (that might easily ensue). The egyptian government needs to act to calm frayed nerves amongst a hysterical population rather than add to the incitement against Israel.
The lessons of Nasser are still relevant. That Nasser in 1967 possibly did not intend to have a war with Israel despite his posturing, his ordering his armies into the Sinai, his instructing the UN out of the Sinai (they just upped and left and are a reminder to israel about relying on international guarantees of its security) and closing the straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping along with of course the drumbeat of threats in the arab media boasting that they would soon slaughter the jews, should weigh heavily on Egypt's present rulers.
The middle-east is a tinder box needing only the slightest of sparks to ignite a regional conflagration.
Israel should take careful note that this reaction by Egypt to Israel defending itself from attack from Egyypt's border with Israel is happening when Israel is undoubtedly in the right to defend itself from a complicated and multi-pronged terrorist attack.
That there is no understanding only condemnation and threats from Egypt makes it clear that things have changed very much for the worse in Egypt since the ouster of Mubarak earlier this year, that even the current conservative egyptian regime looks upon Israel with hostile intent.
Things will without doubt continue to deteriorate after the elections in November as no party, democratic or islamist has demonstrated its intention to honour the peace treaty with Israel. Just the opposite. The only signs given by representatives of egyptian democratic parties are that Israel is considered “the enemy”.
“Al-Karama party representative Amin Iskander said the party wishes to
cancel the agreement "immediately because it’s not in Egypt’s interest.”
This is after 30 years of a peace agreement, after Israel uprooted all its settlements, compensated Egypt for all oil extracted after 1967 and in 1982 handed all of Sinai back to Egypt.
Israel needs to wake up to the realities happening in the middle east and today's Al Ahram, mouthpiece of the government should help indicate the reality. Israel must not let 1973 repeat itself. Slowly but surely a rejectionist front is building around Israel and Israel should act to neutralise Gaza first.
Israel has after operation Cast Lead had relative peace, but at no time have the rockets stopped terrorising the south of Israel. Israel's border communities must not have to face another 10 years of indiscriminate terror, of its children never knowing when a missile will come crashing into the house or kindergarten. No country in the world will accept that. Israel must finally make a stop to it now that tens of Grad and other types of rockets have started landing ever further into the heartlands of Israel.
Israel needs to reoccupy the Philadelphia coridoor to starve Hamas of its sophisticated armaments supplies, then the mistake of 'Cast Lead' must be corrected. The Hamas entity of an islamist threat from Gaza needs to be uprooted by a 'Defensive Shield' style suppression of its terror before a future islamist government in Egypt concludes a mutual defence pact with it. If Israel needs to reoccupy Gaza then that is surely no worse than having to ring Gaza and seal the Sinai border with ever more troops.
In deciding on a new 'Cast Lead' Israel also now has to take into account the added headache when contemplating hitting Iran's nuclear sites of not just Hezbollah and its rocket arsenal but Iran's ally in Gaza which receives funding, training and munitions from Iran.
Lebanon has long been Iran's front with Israel and any confrontation with Iran will almost certainly involve the firing of many thousands of rockets into Israel. The so-called 'balance of terror'. Iran quite possibly has the same arrangement with Hamas for its support.
So let's think again about Gaza.
Will Israel hit the terrorists Gaza again if Hamas has a mutual defence pact with Egypt?
If such a pact arises will Israel then react to terrorist attacks coming from Gaza? If Israel even now suffers from a lack of will to respond to attacks on Sderot, just how much more difficult will the situation be once Israel has to decide whether to sacrifice the 'peace' treaty in order to react to future outrages against its population?
Israel has existential problems in addition to Gaza that can not be dealt with during Obama's period in office. If as is hoped Obama's presidency ends next year the threat from Gaza must be neutralised before dealing with Hezbollah or even Iran. Hezbollah acts more rationally than Hamas and there is a very fragile peace on the northern front but it is holding. Until Israel decides to remove Iran's nuclear threat Hezbollah should, whilst it holds the peace be left alone.
Hamas however is not Hezbollah. It is more anarchic, less able to maintain the peace, less willing to restrain itself so deep is its wish to harm jews and Israel in the absence of the iron will of a Nasrallah. It would be the utmost folly for Israel to allow a united front to arise between Hamas and Egypt.
Hamas must not be given the chance to conclude a defence treaty with an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas needs to be removed in the 'lame duck' period next year when Obama hopefully returns home to obscurity. Will Netanyahu find the courage to act?
Where are you now Mr Begin?