The Egypt-Hamas Standoff in Gaza: A View from Israel

(Daily Shlomo Brom - Cairo's basic attitude toward Hamas as an offshoot and branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is wariness. The Egyptian Brotherhood presents the greatest challenge to the Egyptian regime, hence the existence of a territory ruled by a sister movement on Egypt's border is a problem: it can serve as a model and a base of operations affecting Egypt itself; and it threatens Egyptian sovereignty, as manifested in January 2008 by the breaching of the Gaza-Sinai border wall and the flow of many thousands of Gazans to the Egyptian side. The close relationship that has developed between Hamas and Iran and Hizbullah has only strengthened the perception of the threat posed by Hamas, especially after the uncovering in Egypt of Hizbullah cells that were part of a network smuggling weapons to Gaza. Evidence that these cells were planning attacks inside Egypt brought home to the Egyptian regime that its worst nightmare was coming true: Gaza was becoming an internal Egyptian security problem. Egypt understands, particularly after the war in Gaza a year ago, that the smuggling of weapons into Gaza is both highly destabilizing and a source of growing Hamas self-confidence. Stopping the smuggling will weaken Hamas, decrease its self-confidence, and make it more dependent on Egypt. Hamas leaders fully understand just how dependent they are on Egypt as long as the alternative conduits to Gaza are controlled by Israel. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

2010-01-29 08:34:03

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