The Israel Defense Ministry is growing increasingly frustrated with Egypt’s active role in the refusal to find a solution for the continued arms smuggling into Gaza, leading some senior officials to estimate that Cairo might just be interested in “seeing Israeli blood spill.”
Jerusalem – The Israel Defense Ministry is growing increasingly frustrated with Egypt’s active role in the refusal to find a solution for the continued arms smuggling into Gaza, leading some senior officials to estimate that Cairo might just be interested in “seeing Israeli blood spill.”
Last month, the Egyptian government informed the Israel Ministry of Defense that it would consider digging a moat along the Philadelphi Route separating the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Desert and home to dozens of tunnels used to smuggle weaponry into the Gaza Strip.
Since then, however, Israel has not received an answer and according to officials, despite multiple requests and visits to Egypt by high-ranking government and defense officials, the Egyptians have not changed their conduct along the border; 750 Egyptian border policemen are stationed along the border with the sole task of stopping the smuggling.
“If the Egyptians wanted to, they could already a long time ago have stopped the smuggling,” said an Israeli government official involved in the talks with Cairo said.
“It could be that they just want to see Israeli blood spilt.”
The official said that it was highly unlikely that Egypt would in the end agree to construct a moat along the border with Gaza. He predicted that the border policemen would continue to demonstrate ineffectiveness, and that the Egyptians would use their incapability as an excuse to demand that Israel allow the deployment of additional troops along the border. The border area is a demilitarized zone according to the 1979 Camp David peace accord.
Israel Addresses Northern Threats
The Israel security cabinet convened and dedicated most of its attention to the state of affairs on Israel’s northern front. Some of these threats were laid out in greater detail by Israel’s former IDF Chief of Staff and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in his capacity as the head of the Israeli delegation that is holding semi-annual strategic dialogue meetings with the U.S. in Washington. According to that report, Iran and Syria have smuggled large amounts of long-range and powerful weaponry into Lebanon for Hezbollah’s use, such as the Iranian Fatah-1 missile, which has a 250-km range and a half-ton warhead.
Relating to the Iranian threat, Mofaz said there was no change in Iran’s determination to continue with its nuclear program: the Iranians ignore the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and therefore the sanctions must be stepped up. “We have to reach a situation in which the diplomatic channels bring results by the end of 2007,” Mofaz said.
He called for intensifying the economic sanctions on Iran: “This will be effective against the Iranian leadership and will trickle down.”
On the situation in Lebanon, Mofaz said that the embargo isn’t working. “The arms embargo isn’t felt. As we sit here, the weapons are getting through.”
He said that Hezbollah has never left southern Lebanon. “It is not on the border, but its men are in the nature reserves and in underground structures not far from the border.”
Mofaz asked Rice to increase American efforts to help bring the kidnapped soldiers back.
On the Palestinian subject, he said: “I believe that Hamas’ hostile takeover of the Palestinian Authority is an obstacle to holding further peace negotiations. They want to take control over all of the PA through their organizations.”
The meeting also addressed Syria. Mofaz told Rice that there is tension in the north and that the Syrians are on the defensive. He said that there can be a secret track in which it will be possible to exchange messages of calm and to examine their intentions.
Arms Going To Hezbollah
The Lebanese police on Wednesday discovered a shipment of Grad missiles, ammunition and rifles sent from Syria to Hezbollah. The shipment, found on a truck going through the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, was taken to the Lebanese army.
The truck was stopped two evenings ago at a police roadblock in the area of the town of Duris near Baalbek. In the truck were six Hezbollah members. The six tried at first to flee from the police roadblock, but the police chased them and blocked their path. After a short examination, the Hezbollah activists were let go, but the driver was arrested.
This is the second time in four months that Lebanese security forces managed to prevent arms smuggling to Hezbollah. The last time was in February this year, when at the entrance to Beirut, a truck was stopped that was carrying more than 200 rockets. Hezbollah demanded that the cargo be released and even accused the Lebanese government of collaboration with Israel. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 – which led to the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah – states that there must be no arms smuggling to Lebanon. Thousands of UNIFIL soldiers in southern Lebanon are meant to supervise the ban, yet Hezbollah continues to fill its warehouses with arms.