THE SPINE OCTOBER 23, 2006
A few months ago, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak agreed to take over the policing and prevention of arms smuggling from the Sinai to Gaza. He did take it over. But the smuggling only increased, and it is now epidemiological. Mubarak may have had good intentions. He does not want Hamas to rule over Gaza and destabilize his country's relationship with Israel. But what he wants doesn't much constrain the Palestinian militias or the smugglers in the Sinai, perhaps Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, to desist. Only last week, on a scouting mission into the Strip, Israeli forces discovered thirteen smuggling tunnels. DEBKAfile (see here and here) believes there are many more. A tough-minded but dovish general, Yom-Tov Samia, brought back for a stint out of retirement to deal with this problem, apparently has concluded that Israel will have to reoccupy the Gaza-Sinai frontier for the long run.
The Gaza disengagement more than a year ago was an experiment as to whether the Palestinians can be trusted not to bring in rockets to launch at Israeli territory. Hardly a day has gone by since Israel withdrew from Gaza that towns and kibbutzim within the 1949 Israeli armistice lines have not been attacked. Given this precedent and the one from Lebanon, who but fools will now counsel Israel to leave the West Bank, from which Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the entire populace can be assaulted all at once?