Egypt: The Elephant in the Living
Room of the Gaza 'Disengagement'
by Jared Israel
[Posted 2 September 2005]
Reporting on the so-called Disengagement Plan, the
media has focused almost exclusively on the eviction of Jewish residents
in Gaza and four West Bank settlements. The same is true, for the most
part, of opponents of the plan. But this disregards a key point: as part
of the Israeli retreat, the Egyptian military will regain control of the
Some have argued that this major Israeli concession will encourage the
Egyptians to crack down on gangs that smuggle weapons from the Sinai
desert to terrorist groups in Gaza, thus improving Israeli security.
Others have argued that it is absurd to expect the Egyptians, who have
permitted -- or encouraged -- weapons smuggling for years, to stop it when
they are in control, and that with Egypt instead of Israel in charge of
security, Gaza will become a far more dangerous bastion of terrorism.
As we shall see, the evidence supports the latter view. Indeed, combined
with the eviction of Jewish settlers from Gaza, the transfer of border
control from Israel to Egypt may produce worse results than critics have
argued. This is because both the Disengagement Plan and the Egyptian
border takeover contradict key clauses and language in previous
agreements between Israel, on one side, and Egypt and the Palestinian
Authority, on the other. These clauses and language not only directly
hinder an Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai, but give Israel the
right to defend the Gaza-Sinai border as part of the defense of Israel.
The Disengagement Plan and border takeover put Egypt and the so-called
international community in the position of being able to argue that
Israel has surrendered, de facto, this crucial right.
This could lead to one or more of the following scenarios, jeopardizing
Israel's very existence:
1) The creation of an Egyptian military protectorate in Gaza, with
provocations leading to--
2) A serious military confrontation with Egypt, which may in turn lead
3) The introduction of NATO or similar peacekeepers, meaning a further
surrender of Israeli sovereignty, and/or military confrontation between
Israel and NATO.
A Minor Issue?
The recent mass eviction of Jews from Gaza and four West Bank
settlements is very important. First, it means tragedy for the 10,000
people directly involved. Second, it means the acceptance of the idea
that Gaza, and by extension, also the entire West Bank, are by right
"Palestinian" Arab territories. Third, it also means accepting the
blatantly racist principle that Jews have no right to live in "Arab
However, the media -- and even opponents of Disengagement -- have missed
or deliberately disregarded another aspect of the plan: the return of
the Egyptian military, by Israeli invitation, to Gaza.
Two days ago, on August 31, 2005, the Knesset voted, by a margin of 53
to 28, to accept a deal, apparently set up by the US, between the
Egyptian and Israeli governments, which gives Egypt security control of
the Gaza-Egypt border.
In the Knesset vote, it was not only Arab and "Left"
MKs who voted for the deal. Enough Likud members also voted for it to
give the measure an almost 2/3 majority. Even a few anti-Disengagement
MKs voted 'yes.' Israel National News reported:
"Several MKs who strongly opposed the withdrawal from
Gaza voted in favor of the agreement today. Minister Yisrael Katz and
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin both say that there is no point in keeping
Israeli soldiers in the area, in between Egyptian and Palestinian
Authority forces, now that there is no Jewish civilian presence there."
This sentiment trivializes the significance of Egypt's
Gaza border takeover.
The takeover has been justified on the grounds that Egypt will
supposedly combat weapons smuggling. For years, the Egypt-Gaza border
has been the site of a huge smuggling operation, using tunnels running
from the Egyptian side of the border into Gaza, mainly in the town of
Rafah. To combat weapons smuggling, Israel stationed troops in the
"Philadelphi Corridor," a narrow security road running between Gaza and
Egypt. Using sophisticated monitoring devices, Israeli troops searched
for and destroyed the tunnels.
To get a sense of the scale of weapons smuggling, check out this IDF
chronology of anti-smuggling operations:
Archived on Emperor's Clothes at
According to the IDF, the Gaza weapons smuggling poses
a deadly threat to all parts of Israel. According to the New York
Post, the Israeli government admits the threat will get worse
following its eviction of Jews from Gaza. How does the Sharon government
claim it will combat the worsened threat?
"Fearing that abandoning Jewish settlements in Gaza
will help foment a new terror state there, Israel is seeking
Egyptian assistance by agreeing to let its former adversary deploy
forces along Gaza's border with the Sinai Peninsula."
According to the Post:
"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hopes the
Egyptians can help stem the flow of weaponry into the
There is no doubt that, if they had the desire, the
Egyptians "[could] help stem" the flow of rockets and other weapons to
terrorist groups in Gaza. But do they have the desire?
We have a direct answer from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. On June
20, 2005, Mubarak was interviewed on Israel's Channel 2. Here is a
report posted on the website of Egypt's State Information Service:
[Excerpt from Egypt SIS starts here]
"Asked on [sic!] Egypt's role in the planned
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and whether it will try to prevent
weapons smuggling through tunnels under Rafah, President Mubarak
said the Israelis themselves cannot prevent weapons smuggling as
they currently patrol the Philadelphia [sic!] route.
"The President said that Egyptian police are frequently searching for
illegal weapons in Sinai and trying their best to foil any attempt
to smuggle weapons into Israel.
"But Mubarak said that no country in the world, including the United
States and Russia, can completely seal off its borders to prevent
smuggling as there would be definitely some porous areas."
[Excerpt from Egypt SIS ends here]
Even though he was speaking on Israeli TV in June,
before the Knesset had approved the Egyptian takeover, Mubarak made no
effort to convince viewers that Egypt is sincere about stopping the
smuggling. Instead, he went out of his way to say that Egypt will not
stop the smuggling. He did so using black humor, comparing the
approximately fourteen kilometers of border along which weapons are
smuggled into Gaza to the Russian and US borders, which are thousands of
kilometers long. Thus, he ridiculed the Israeli government's "hopes
[that] the Egyptians can help stem the flow of weaponry into the
President Mubarak's promise, made on Israeli television, that after
Egypt takes over, "there would be definitely some porous areas" in the
border, was an obvious invitation to terrorists.
Mubarak told Channel 2 that Egyptian forces were already "trying their
best" to stop the smuggling. Again, this was black humor. According to
the Jerusalem Post, here is what General Moshe Ya'alon, former
IDF Chief of Staff, said about Egypt's "best":
[Excerpt from Jerusalem Post starts here]
"Speaking to a small group of reporters in his Tel
Aviv headquarters in a closed-door meeting, Ya'alon blasted the
Egyptians for allowing the Palestinians to continue smuggling arms
from Sinai into Gaza despite Israeli protests.
"According to a summary of his comments, leaked by a person present in
the meeting, Ya'alon charged that if the Egyptians wanted the
Palestinians to have Katyusha rockets capable of hitting Ashkelon,
they would facilitate that as well.
"Ya'alon added that Egypt knew exactly which arms were being smuggled,
and could halt the smuggling of rocket- propelled grenades into
"His scathing comments came as top Defense Ministry officials are
trying to stabilize meetings with Egyptian security counterparts to
coordinate the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. These talks are
being headed by Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilad, head of the ministry's
"According to defense sources, Gilad is seeking an agreement by which
Egypt and the Palestinian Authority will secure its end of the
Philadelphi corridor, the narrow border separating Sinai from the
Gaza Strip where Palestinians are digging tunnels to facilitate arms
"According to reports, talks held in Egypt last week resulted in an
Israeli agreement to allow more experienced Egyptian troops into the
border area, instead of Egyptian Border Police. This would be a
modification to the peace treaty between the two countries, which
aimed at distancing the Egyptian and Israeli forces."
[Excerpt from Jerusalem Post ends here]
a) if there is rampant weapons smuggling on the Sinai-Gaza border, as
Mubarak admits and
b) if this weapons smuggling is a deadly threat, as
the IDF has documented, and
c) if Egypt has knowingly allowed the smuggling, if not actually
organizing it, and
d) if Egyptian President Mubarak openly mocks the idea of Egypt stemming
the flow of weapons after the Egyptian takeover, and
e) if, as the New York Post reports, the Israeli government
admits that the so-called disengagement will "help foment a new terror
state" in Gaza, then:
How can giving Egypt control of the Egypt-Gaza border possibly prevent
the creation of said terrorist state? Won't it instead guarantee the
creation of said state?
-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes
[Footnotes and Further
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"Egyptian deployment on Gaza border due to begin Sunday. Palestinians
ready to consider continued Israeli inspection", by The Associated Press
and Haaretz Service, Haaretz, September 1, 2005 at
"Israel to cede control of Egypt-Gaza border to
Egypt," by Reuters, ABC News Online
Corporation), September 1, 2005 at
 "Knesset Approves Egyptian Patrol of Gaza Border,"
by Hillel Fendel and Ezra HaLevi, Arutz Sheva, August 31, 2005
 "Ariel Asks Egypt For
Gaza Help," by Uri Dan, The New York Post, August 5, 2005 Friday,
All Editions; Pg. 5, 349 words.
 "Mubarak: Gaza withdrawal should be followed by
further pullouts," Egypt State Information Service, June 21,
 "Ya'alon slams Egypt for role in smuggling," by
The Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2004, Wednesday, News; Pg. 1, 494