It can now be stated clearly: Egypt, which maintains a formal peace treaty with Israel, acts as if it is in a state of war with Israel.
Israel has determined that Iranian-financed weapons to the Palestinian Authority flow through a port in Egypt, with direct support from the Egyptian government.
Israeli officials said many of the weapons ordered by the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority and aligned insurgency groups stem from Sudan’s Darfour region. They said the weapons were transported by land and then shipped through the Mediterranean to ports in Egypt.
“The weapons to the Palestinians are brought in through Egyptian ports and El Arish and are imported by land from Sudan,” Yuval Steinitz, the deputy chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said. “Those latter imports have to traverse Egypt on their way to Gaza. There is no way that the Egyptian government is not colluding with the weapons shippers.”
In a series of interviews in the Israeli media, Steinitz, the former chairman of the Knesset committee, asserted that Egypt has supported the massive smuggling of weapons to the Gaza Strip. Steinitz said Egypt regards Hamas and other Palestinian insurgency groups as a key asset in the Arab confrontation against Israel.
“A few checkpoints in the El Arish port and on the road that leads from inside Egypt into Sinai would solve the [arms smuggling] problem,” Steinitz said. “It could do this. It could put the smuggler leaders in jail – as Jordan did.”
Israeli officials have echoed the assertions of Steinitz, who attends weekly briefings by the Israeli intelligence community. They said Egypt has bolstered its military presence in the Sinai Peninsula and established military bases and supply warehouses.
“There are others who argue there is a deliberate Egyptian policy to allow conditions that cause Israel difficulties and perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Zeev Schiff, a leading Israeli military analyst who reflects thinking in the IDF General Staff.
On Nov. 1, Egypt was said to have rejected a U.S. proposal to deploy international forces along the Sinai-Gaza border. The dismissal was relayed during a meeting of Egyptian and U.S. intelligence officials, the latter led by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.
©The Bulletin 2006