Gaza and the Israeli-Egyptian Border

(Ha'aretz) Amos Harel - Prime Minister Sharon in New York reiterated his support for Israel's evacuation of the Philadelphi route on the border with Egypt, within the framework of the disengagement plan. "If we do not want to continue being considered responsible for the Gaza Strip, we must allow the Palestinians an open border with Egypt," Sharon said. However, in the same breath, he added that the defense establishment is vehemently opposed to the evacuation of Philadelphi because it could result in greater arms smuggling from Sinai into the Strip. The Shin Bet describes what is going on under Philadelphi, even today, as a "highway of tunnels" and fears that the phenomenon will only be aggravated after the evacuation of the area. The main concern is that weapons capable of "disrupting the balance" will be smuggled in, such as anti-aircraft missiles, sophisticated explosives, and long-range Katyusha rockets. According to Y., the chief of research in the Shin Bet, after the withdrawal, Gaza will become the "home front" for fueling terrorism in the West Bank. The know-how and the weapons will get to the West Bank via indirect means, and the West Bank will become the real battlefield. Egypt and Israel do not concur yet about the "reversibility" of Egyptian deployment. Israel is presenting this as a "pilot" plan, while the Egyptians want a permanent presence there and an immediate expansion to the entire border sector, from Rafah to Eilat. Israel is now insisting on an Egyptian deployment on Philadelphi only.

2005-05-31 00:00:00

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