The View from Here
Subject: Egypt and the Hamas weapon tunnels.
The growing discussion in Israel is centered on stopping the future capability of Hamas to rearm, with even greater stockpiles of weaponry, as Hizbollah has been allowed to do in Lebanon.
Hizbollah has built a greater stockpile of sophisticated missiles, rockets, anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons under the noses of the UNIFIL forces that were sent to southern Lebanon precisely to prevent such an escalation.
Egypt has been a direct and serious player in the arming of Hamas over the years.
Almost all the weapons and missiles in the possession of Hamas were smuggled through the hundreds of tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, or carried over the Egyptian border in the Sinai.
These weapons did not suddenly drop from heaven at the Rafah located tunnels. They were imported into Egyptian ports, passed through Egyptian customs,. transported on Egyptian trucks hundreds of kilometers to the area of Rafah where they were physically passed to the Palestinians and smuggled through the tunnels.
At each stage, money changed hands. The weapon smuggling trade is highly profitable. Bachsheesh (back-handers and bribes) paid to the highest and lowest levels
in Egypt have kept the Hamas war machine well supplied.
Egypt receives handsome dividends in indirect payments from Iran to turn a blind eye to their war patronage of Hamas.
The diplomatic effort is in full force to find a solution to prevent Hamas from receiving fresh stocks. This at a time when Iran has been finding ways to supply Hamas with even more deadly rockets. It is impossible to get to a solution without the cooperation of Egypt.
It is in Egypt's interest to prevent Hamas flexing an increasingly more powerful arm. Hamas is related to the Muslim Brotherhood that challenges the Mubarak government. Yet, Egypt chooses not to clamp down on the smuggling routes.
A proposal to introduce a UN force to supervise the tunnels has also been rejected by Egypt. For years, the Egyptians have been trying to reduce the size of the UN force in Sinai against the strong objections of Israel. Against this background the Egyptians cannot allow themselves to do an about face and approve an increase to the international force on its territory.
The Germans, who have developed equipment to detect tunneling activity, have offered their assistance to the Egyptians.
It is a fundamental condition of Israel that the IDF will not withdraw from Gaza until a guaranteed formula is found to prevent Hamas from acquiring and reinforcing their armament in the future.
One consideration is that the IDF will patrol and supervise the weapon tunnel area along what is known as the Philadelphi Route if all other diplomatic efforts fail.
The military pressure on Hamas will continue until politicians can reach a formula acceptable to Israel.
The View from Here
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