Op-Ed: This Time, Re-possess the Philadelphi Corridor
On August 23, 2011, I wrote an article titled:
"The Philadelphi Corridor: Take it Back, Israel, and Soon."
Almost three years have passed since that article was published and enormous quantities of Iranian, Syrian and homemade missiles - all lethal - have flooded into Gaza through the smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor.
With the possibility of yet another ceasefire coming into effect at this time of writing, the same dreary and perilous situation will likely apply again.
The first Egyptian brokered ceasefire on July 14th was accepted by Israel but immediately broken by Hamas, which launched salvos of missiles against Israeli towns and villages. Rumors abound that now Hamas seeks a 10 year hudna – another bogus ceasefire – complete with outrageous demands and conditions.
But as surely as night follows day, Hamas will attack again and again and again when it deems the moment is favorable to it.
This rumored ceasefire is based on the ten-year treaty of Hudaibiya which was ratified between Muhammad and his Quraish opponents in Mecca (628). Ten years is the maximum amount of time Muslims can be at peace with infidels and is based on Muhammad’s example of breaking the treaty after only two years. The sole function of the “peace-treaty” (hudna) is to buy weakened Muslims time to regroup for a renewed offensive.
Muhammad is quoted in the Hadith saying: “If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath.” Let us hope that Israel will not fall for this duplicitous Muslim ploy.
It is helpful to be aware of relatively recent history to better understand what is going on now. Ever since Egypt invaded and occupied Gaza in the 1948 Arab-Israel War, the area has been a perilous finger of death pointing into the very heart of the Jewish state.
In subsequent years, Arab terrorists (fedayeen) from Gaza infiltrated as far north as Rehovot and beyond, murdering hundreds of Israeli civilians including children.
In October, 1956, Israel finally struck back against the Egyptian occupied Gaza Strip and the terrorist bases during the Sinai Campaign. But bowing to savage pressure from the United States, Israel withdrew from Sinai and Gaza. It was not until the 1967 Six Day War, however, that Jewish villages and farms were established and, in some instances such as Kfar Darom,reconstituted in the Gaza Strip.
But all this ended when the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, drove the Jewish residents and farmers from Gaza in the vain hope that the Palestinians would live in peace next to Israel. Of course, they did not and anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knew that no Muslim entity would ever make peace with the Jewish state.
Later still, under U.S. pressure, especially from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sharon signed an agreement in Sep 2005, called "Agreed Arrangements," that withdrew Israeli forces from the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14-km long and 100-meter wide area between Gaza and Egypt.
It is just as much in Egypt’s best interests as well as Israel’s to frustrate Hamas aggression.
It is under this corridor that Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist entities have dug hundreds of tunnels through which they smuggle their weapons into Gaza. The retreat from the Philadelphi Corridor at the urgings of Condolleza Rice was one of many disastrous concessions and risks taken by Israeli leaders in their naïve search for peace with the Muslim and Arab world.
It was only a matter of time before Hamas, the little Muslim Brotherhood, evicted their Fatah rivals in a bloody coup in 2007. Hamas, with its charter calling for Israel’s extermination, has ruled the Gaza Strip since then, including occupying the Philadelphi Corridor.
As Israel endures this third act of Palestinian aggression by Hamas in Gaza, repossessing the Philadelphi Corridor is again a militarily and strategically wise decision. Doing so will no doubt evoke screams of rage from the morally compromised world, but then they will always condemn Israel however peaceful and restrained the Jewish state acts. So with that truism, it is surely better to be hung in the media and the international corridors of power as a wolf than a sheep.
Repossessing territory as punishment for Palestinian crimes and aggression is also a salutary move which strikes at the very heart of Islamic supremacy and expansionism.
It is just as much in Egypt’s best interests as well as Israel’s to frustrate Hamas aggression and so far Egypt’s President al-Sisi, has shown no love for Hamas. It is definitely Israel’s only hope of security to arbitrarily liberate and re-possess the narrow Corridor.
After all, should al-Sisi be overthrown by the Muslim Brotherhood at some future time in the ever shifting sands of Arab and Muslim internecine strife there would be no more need for smuggling tunnels beneath the Egyptian - Gaza border. Instead, endless fleets of trucks will bring into the Strip from Egypt - the big Muslim Brotherhood - the most sophisticated weapons and missiles needed for Hamas - the little Muslim Brotherhood. Only by possessing the Philadelphi Corridor again can Israel hope to stem such a lethal tide.
Remember that when the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed in 1979, the 14 km long security and buffer zone known as the Philadelphi Corridor was under Israel’s control. Its purpose was to prevent the illegal importation into the Gaza Strip from Egypt of weapons and terrorists to be used against Israel.
The Oslo Accords, signed in 1995, allowed Israel to retain the security corridor along the border and it soon became apparent that Sinai Bedouin and the Palestinian Arabs were digging ever more sophisticated smuggling tunnels under it. But following the infamous and tragic disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and Condoleeza Rice’s subsequent urging, Israel foolishly gave up control of the Philadelphi Corridor to the Palestinian Authority in September of that year and was no longer able to monitor and destroy tunnels.
Interestingly, the Fatah wing of the Palestinian Authority, according to David Poort in Al Jazeera, had later pleaded with the Israeli government to re-occupy the Philadelphi corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border, in order to tighten the siege on its rival Hamas in Gaza.
“In a meeting in Jerusalem, Ahmed Qurei, the former Palestinian Authority prime minister and member of Fatah, asked Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, if Israel could retake the Philadelphi corridor to seal the border and cut off military supplies to Hamas.” Apparently Livni did nothing and Hamas, as we know, was greatly strengthened ever since.
Whether one accepts as sincere the deep concerns expressed by the PA leadership regarding Hamas and its urging of Israel, specifically Tzipi Livni at the time, to re-possess the Philadelphi Corridor, it nevertheless is crystal clear that not to do so this time will inevitably bring even more dire security problems for the increasingly beleaguered Jewish state.
In fact, David Eshel of Defense Update, argued back in 2009 for the IDF to take back the Philadelphi Corridor, which is some 14 kilometers in length but only 100 meters in width. He suggested increasing its width to "a fully sterile security line of about 1,000 meters."
So, as I urged as far back as August 2011, take it, Israel, and take it soon, for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the other haters of the Jewish state neither sleep nor rest.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of the trilogy, Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.