Egypt-Gaza border (Photo: WorldNetDaily)
RAFIAH YAM, Gaza – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel is willing to give up control of the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip if Cairo halts Palestinian arms smuggling in the area, but Israeli military personnel stationed here told WND yesterday the weapons flow continues, with tacit support from the Egyptians.
“We have not seen the Egyptians lift a finger to stop the tunnels and the arms smuggling, which is happening regularly,” said an Israeli Defense Forces officer stationed at the Egypt-Gaza border who asked that his name be withheld. “If Israel doesn’t work to stop the Palestinians from bringing in weapons, no one is going to do it.”
Another officer at the border told WND, “The Egyptians have not given one indication they will protect the border. I can’t believe Sharon would entrust them with Israel’s security like that.”
Sharon Monday told a Jewish conference in New York if Egypt stops the smuggling, “Israel will be glad to leave this area.”
Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday Israel is willing to give up control of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza a few months after completion of the evacuation of Gaza’s Jewish communities this summer.
But critics cite Cairo’s inability or unwillingness to stem the arms smuggling as proof Egypt cannot be trusted and warn Israel soon may face a Palestinian Gaza armed with weapons such as ground-to-ground and anti-aircraft missiles.
Palestinians regularly use tunnels from Egypt to the bordering Rafah refugee camp to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. The tunnels are dug from the Egyptian side usually leading into homes inside Rafah, with tunnel entrances covered by furniture and tiles.
Since February, security sources report, there have been approximately 30 incidents of smuggling from Egypt’s Sinai region, with weapons transported including approximately 1,000 rifles, dozens of RPG launchers, about 150 handguns, five anti-aircraft shoulder missiles and tens of thousands of bullets.
The weapons are being smuggled with the help of Hamas and Palestinian forces on the Israeli side, Reuven Erlich, director of Israel’s Center for Special Studies, told WND.
“The Palestinian Authority claims to have shut down the tunnels, and they did close some, but others are open, and they are actively helping the smugglers,” said Erlich.
Egypt wants to gradually place at the Israeli-Egyptian border 3,500 troops fortified with vehicles, observation and listening posts and missile launchers, sources close to the negotiations told WND.
Egyptian Foreign Minster Ahmed Aboul Gheit said this week his country plans to deploy 750 troops to the border, “subject to the understandings that we are trying to reach with the Israelis.”
“We are not yet fully there,” he said.
He added that another 1,500 to 2,000 troops would be stationed along the Egyptian-Israeli border to ensure an “orderly” Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
Olmert said Egyptian forces would take full control of the border post “when they are ready” following the pullout.
“We hope the Egyptians will take it over,” Olmert said
Meanwhile, Egypt’s state-run press has been vilifying Israel.
As WND reported, an article April 18 in Egypt’s government sponsored Al-Akhbar daily lamented “the bogus historical rights of Jews in Palestine,” claiming the foundation of the state of Israel was based on “fabrications and lies that have their source in the Old Testament and in the Talmud [including] the lies of Israel and world Jewry about the number of Jews exterminated by Nazi Germany.”
A series of articles last month in Al-Ahram al-Massai, also government-run, claimed the Jewish state was established to “turn [Israel] into the center of world Zionism for the implementation of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'”
The “Protocols” is an anti-Semitic story that claims Jews run the world by proxy.
Egypt also recently released an Arabic translation of the “Protocols,” which became a best-selling title, that stated, “According to [Jewish] religious law, you are allowed – moreover, obligated – to kill gentiles, even if they are good-doers or, to be more precise, could be good-doers.”
In February, WND reported the Egyptian International Book Fair, considered the most important event in the Arab literary world, featured another “Protocols” version, published by Syria, that charged Jews use hot pokers to gouge Palestinians’ eyes.
The book’s forward, which was dedicated to Palestinian suicide bombers, said, “From our brothers [the Palestinians], I heard that the Jews perform the most barbaric acts on whomever they catch. … Their stomachs had been opened and their kidneys, liver or heart had been removed and then they were sewed up again. Their eyes were burned out with red-hot iron pokers.”
An Israeli officer at the Egypt-Gaza border said, “The Egyptians have their own objectives. As soon as we leave, the Palestinians will throw a party because they won’t have to hide their smuggling anymore. With Egypt there, they can do things in the open.”