|New York Times 28-Apr-11 [Source]|
The Jerusalem Post has a report today about a dangerous development on Israel's southern border. Hamas is shifting sensitive portions of its operations into the Egyptian-controlled Sinai desert, where it expects them to be sheltered from Israeli attack.
Hamas has established rocket production facilities in Sinai, on the logic that Israel will not strike targets inside Egypt for fear of worsening relations with Cairo. The Post article, written by Yaakov Katz, says Israel has warned Egypt to take steps to re-establish some kind of order in the area and to prevent attacks on Israelis like the one in August which cost 8 Israeli civilian lives. (See our earlier blog article "18-Aug-11: Today's multiple terror attacks on southern Israel".) The Egyptian military has so far done essentially nothing, though more than a dozen Egyptian army battalions are currently operating in Sinai - with Israel’s permission. That permission had to be obtained from Israel because of the demilitarization provisions under the Egypt/Israel peace treaty.
Egypt's passivity is a real issue given the accelerating rate at which advanced weaponry originating in looted Libyan military storehouses is arriving in Gaza. Bearing in mind the relatively open state of Israel's long border with Egypt, this is highly problematic.
What does a small nation like Israel need to do when huge political and strategic shifts take place inside the territory of its neighbours? The IDF has recently established a new regional brigade responsible for defending southern Israel including Eilat, and is in the course of reinforcing its presence along the Egyptian border. But Sinai is very large, and the stockpile and sophistication of weapons possessed by the terrorists just keep on growing.