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Al-Qaeda on Israel's Doorstep?

By Michael Freund
7/24/2005, 12:00 AM

The weekend terror attack in Egyptian-controlled Sinai, which killed at least 88 people and wounded hundreds of others, should be setting off alarm bells in Jerusalem and Washington.

Egyptsharm The coordinated series of explosions, which bear all the hallmarks of an Al-Qaeda operation, indicate that Osama Bin Laden’s iniquity has found a comfortable base right alongside Israel’s southern border.

Coming just nine months after last October’s terror attacks in Taba and Ras Shitan in Sinai, the latest bombings underline the dangers of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposed withdrawal from nearby Gaza.

Terrorists love a vacuum, and that is what an Israeli pullout from Gaza would create, providing groups such as Al-Qaeda with a foothold at the Jewish state’s doorstep.

Moreover, Egypt’s ongoing failure to clamp down on the terrorists demonstrates that they can not be relied upon to patrol the boundary between Gaza and Sinai – a step that Sharon has reportedly already accepted as part of his pullout plan.

Saturday’s bombings, then, are a timely reminder that however difficult it might appear to be to maintain an Israeli presence in Gaza, the consequences of withdrawal might only prove far more devastating – and lethal.